Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: overseas aid transparency

Updated 11 August 2015

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/making-uk-aid-more-open-and-transparent. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.

Issue

We want UK taxpayers to be able to find out what their taxes are being spent on, and where their tax money is going. This includes all forms of overseas aid.

Actions

We are committed to making all government spending as clear and transparent as possible. More information about how this can be found in our policy on improving the transparency and accountability of government and its services.

We publish full details of the aid we give to other countries, in line with the UK Aid Transparency Guarantee. The scheme means we have to say where aid cash goes in a comparable, accurate and timely way.

We publish information on money donated overseas in line with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), and are now asking our partners to do the same. IATI aims to make information on aid spending more accessible around the world.

Background

We launched the UK Aid Transparency Guarantee (UKATG) in June 2010. The Guarantee aims to set out clearly how we should publish what happens to UK aid money and who benefits from it.

The International Development Sector Transparency Panel was established to drive forward the government’s transparency agenda. It will seek to challenge, influence and advise DFID on its approach to international development transparency.

Appendix 1: International Aid Transparency Initiative

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) aims to make information on aid spending and aid activities more available.

Donors, recipients, partner countries, and civil aid organisations (such as the Red Cross) have all agreed to share information about aid.

In brief, the IATI means donor countries must publish:

  • full details of aid they give to each country
  • costs of each individual project
  • reliable information on plans for future aid

The IATI also says donor countries must:

  • use the same formats when publishing data
  • make it easier to exchange data electronically
  • develop a code of conduct for what happens if countries don’t make data available

Who’s signed up?

IATI members include the UK, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, the European Commission, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Where can I find out more?

For more information about IATI and how to get involved, please contact the public enquiry point on enquiry@dfid.gov.uk.

Appendix 2: UK Aid Transparency Guarantee

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We launched the UK Aid Transparency Guarantee in June 2010.

The Guarantee aims to set out clearly how we should publish what happens to UK aid money and who benefits from it.

We now publish more information on UK aid donations than ever before, and encourage other countries and organisations to do the same.

Information about money

We publish full financial details of all DFID projects worth more than £500. We also publish project information, business cases, new contracts and tender documents for new contracts over £10,000.

We publish this information both on GOV.UK and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) site.

Information that’s easy to access

In 2011, we asked users for feedback on the information we were publishing. They told us they wanted more on the type of projects we sponsored, along with the progress of projects and the range of our work.

We revised and improved how we presented our information and visitors to the database rose by 32%.

Information anyone can re-use

We publish data under the Open Government Licence. This allows anyone to take and re-use our information as they wish, without paying a royalty.

Information to help with transparency

We use UK aid to help developing countries set up and monitor databases and data systems. Systems like these can provide data on - for example - how many children attend school, and how many teachers there are per student.

With access to information like this, it’s easier for people in developing countries to hold their governments to account about whether aid money is being spent effectively.

Appendix 3: International Aid Transparency Initiative publishing requirements for partners of DFID

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

DFID launched the Aid Transparency Challenge in 2012, with the aim of allowing anyone to track UK development assistance right through the delivery chain - from taxpayer to beneficiary. This will allow UK taxpayers and citizens of partner countries to see exactly how money has been spent, and help other organisations better plan and coordinate their own programmes.

DFID now publishes detailed information on all new projects and programmes to the IATI Registry, and visualises this data in a searchable format in the Development Tracker. To further increase the detail of this data, we are working with partner organisations to publish information on projects receiving DFID funding to the IATI Registry.

IATI was launched in 2008 to increase the transparency of development assistance. IATI has grown significantly since its launch and its membership includes many donors, partner country endorsers, foundations and civil society organisations. DFID became the first signatory to publish to IATI in January 2011. Since then, over 300 organisations have published data to the IATI Registry, including donor governments and multilaterals, NGOs, foundations and private sector companies.

DFID’s publishing requirements

DFID requires partners to publish an IATI Implementation Schedule, as well as well as quarterly data for each of the IATI fields in our minimum requirements. A detailed list of these with technical requirements is below, as well as a document produced by Bond which explains each field in plain English.

These requirements will be reviewed occasionally and may change with technical IATI-standard updates or DFID’s business needs; you will be informed of any updates.

DFID strongly encourages partners to publish any other fields for which they have data. The more information available to the public, the better organisations and citizens can harness IATI to improve development outcomes.

Guidance on publishing

There is very useful guidance available on how to publish IATI data:

Publishing tools

  • AidStream is an online platform that enables organisations to publish data to the IATI standard quickly and simply. Once registered with an account you will be able to enter data, store it, edit it and publish it to the IATI Registry. AidStream is recommended for partners with up to twenty projects. Detailed guidance is available, as well as a series of demonstration videos produced by IATI
  • CSV2IATI allows organisations to upload a spreadsheet of project data and easily convert it to IATI format. It is recommended for organisations with a large number of projects
  • Further details of these tools, and others

Information for civil society organisations publishing to IATI

Timing

DFID expects all organisations receiving funding from our central funding schemes to produce an IATI Implementation Schedule and to start publishing IATI data within 6 months of receiving funding. Data should be updated and published at least once per quarter.

Assistance and support

Bond provides 3 different types of support for NGOs that need to use IATI to share information about their DFID grant, which can be tailored to your individual organisation’s needs. All of these are free for NGOs who are DFID grant holders, and can be accessed by emailing support@iatistandard.org..

  • monthly Bond IATI workshops at Bond’s offices in London, UK. The workshops are best for organisations new to IATI, or for new staff within organisations already reporting to IATI. The groups are kept small (around 8 to 10 participants) and the aim is to explain the IATI process in Plain English and provide hands-on practical training using AidStream. They will also provide regional training, for example in Bristol, if there is enough demand. Dates and information

  • online training for 1 to 2 staff within an organisation. This is particularly useful for NGOs not based in the UK or close to London. Supports screen-sharing and online discussions. Online training best suits small NGOs who are unable to attend the IATI workshops, or staff new to IATI who are taking on responsibility for using it. This is part of Bond’s ‘two hour guarantee’ for small UK NGOs. Contact support@iatistandard.org for more information.

  • email and phone support, accessed via support@iatistandard.org. This is best for anyone who has a question or query about a specific aspect of IATI publishing which can be answered in a short email or phone conversation

  • in house training for organisations interested in training three or more staff in using the IATI data standard and online tools. Contact support@iatistandard.org for details

For any other enquiries, please contact your fund manager.

Resources

The IATI Speakers’ Kit has several excellent resources which can be used as an introduction to IATI, and for informing others about the standard.

Information for private suppliers publishing to IATI

Timing

DFID expects all private suppliers to produce an IATI Implementation Schedule and to publish IATI data, and to assist their first tier of sub-contractors to do the same. Suppliers who attend a DFID training workshop in 2014 or 2015 must do this by 31 December 2015.
To ensure maximum traceability, first-tier and other sub-contractors in the delivery chain should be required to assist their own sub-contractors to publish. Data should be updated and published at least once per quarter.

Resources

The IATI Speakers’ Kit has several excellent resources which can be used as an introduction to IATI, and for informing others about the standard.

Assistance and support

For technical support in publishing to IATI, please contact IATI support, at support@iatistandard.org.

For any enquiries relating to DFID’s specific requirements for suppliers, please contact Veronica Cain or Jane Carter