UK sets ‘transparency challenge’ for aid partners

7 Dec 12
The UK government will require organisations receiving and managing its aid to meet globally recognised transparency and accountability standards, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced last night.

By Nick Mann | 7 December 2012

The UK government will require organisations receiving and managing its aid to meet globally recognised transparency and accountability standards, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced last night.

Under the Aid Transparency Challenge, the UK’s aid partners and their sub-contractors and sub-agencies will have to adhere to the International Aid Transparency Initiative standard. This requires them to release open data on how aid money is being spent using a common, standard, reusable format. It includes ‘unique identifiers’ that make it possible to follow money through the aid process.

The standard was launched in February 2011 to provide a common benchmark for aid transparency. It has now been endorsed by 22 partner countries and is now a shared objective for 35 major aid providers.

Greening said: ‘Transparency is crucial for successful development. Growth and poverty eradication around the world have been underpinned by open societies and open economies – what the prime minister has called the golden thread of development. That is why these things are a priority for next year’s Group of Eight summit.

‘The DFID has transformed its approach to transparency, reshaping our own working practices and pressuring others across the world to do the same.’

She added: ‘Great progress has been made by the UK’s aid sector, but there’s a lot more we can do. That is why I am launching the Aid Transparency Challenge, to the whole sector achieve this.’

Greening also announced an Aid Transparency Challenge Fund to develop software to make aid dats widely accessible. The fund, which will be designed after a period of consultation, aims to ‘stimulate work by developers to create tools promoting the use of open aid information, supporting the traceability of aid, and improving results reporting,’ she explained.

‘Such tools may also us answer critical questions on traceability of different delivery chain models; making data relevant to different users whether they are aid data experts in Kenya or activists in Britain; and relating aid data with other datasets, such as development indicators,’ she noted.

She stressed, however, that the UK would ensure the new requirement was not an ‘unreasonable barrier’ to accessing DFID aid.  The department plans to consult with a range of organisations to identify potential obstacles and issues and will also share best practice from its own experiences.

In 2010, the DFID introduced an to make its spending clear and accessible to citizens of both the UK and recipient countries.

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