On February 9th, the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Steering Committee will meet in Paris to finalize the global standard for aid transparency. The Steering Committee is made up of representatives from bilateral and multilateral donors, partner countries, civil society organisations and experts in aid information. Current members include: Australia, Betteraid, Burkina Faso, Civicus, Colombia, Development Gateway, Development Initiatives Poverty Research (DIPR), Dominican Republic, European Commission, Germany, Ghana, Malawi, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Publish What You Fund, Rwanda, Transparency International, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Kingdom, Vietnam and the World Bank.
The standards expected to be agreed will include:
- an agreement on what information organisations will publish, how detailed the published information should be and what kind of detail should be included, for example whether it should include expected outcomes and payment conditions
- a common system for categorising different types of aid spending /commitments with all participants using the same terminology and definitions so that it will be easier to share and compare information
- a common electronic format that will make it easy to share information and thus reduce transaction costs
- a code of conduct that will set out what information donors will publish and how frequently, how users may expect to access that information, and how donors will be held accountable for compliance.
In anticipation of this meeting, several civil society organizations have sent letters to aid donor countries to engage them on a discussion around the next set of aid transparency standards. Several MFAN Principals and Partners signed onto the letters, including: CARE USA; Sheila Nix, U.S. Executive Director, ONE; Oxfam America; Publish What You Fund; and Michael Klosson, Vice President, Policy and Humanitarian Response, Save the Children U.S. Acknowledging individual measures already taken to improve transparency, like the launch of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, these CSOs argue the new standards resulting from the Steering Committee meeting must be compatible with donor country initiatives. The U.S. letter sent to U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah reads:
“The emerging ‘common aid language’ needs to be shaped by U.S. information and reporting systems and respond to U.S. accountability concerns. The Administration’s focus on results and accountability requires comprehensive and timely information on all resources being invested in a country, sector or area. Without the ability to compare U.S. spending to that of other donors, it is not possible to allocate or coordinate resources effectively or meaningfully assess their impact.”
For more information about IATI, click here.