Thursday, 30 July 2009

FOI failures

DfID have responded to my FOI request on their plans to publish aid information from their database.

Disappointingly they won't give out information about Ministerial decisions on the matter, but hopefully my latest FOI attempt will prove more fruitful.

Meanwhile, here's another tantalising glimpse of what's to come:

Publishing Project Information (PPI): As part of our commitment to improving transparency, DFID will publish summary project information on its website from early 2009. Information published will include project descriptions, dates, purposes, locations, sectors, aid effectiveness, summary financial data and whether or not conditions are attached. These items will subsequently be made available as a feed to AiDA and other external stakeholders for use in their analysis and information systems. We are also working on publishing more detailed project documentation later in 2009.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Mashing with DfID

Check out this transcript of the 1st meeting of Open Knowledge Foundations' Working Group on Open Knowledge in Development. (I'm andeggs)

We're going to mash around with DfID data that's due to be released on August 10th. I've got an FOI about it here.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

One Word: Radicalism

The Tories have published their ideas for international development, called 'One World Conservatism'.

Its got a very encouraging bent towards transparency and evaluation. Here are some of the highlights:
  • We will ensure the impartial and objective analysis of the effectiveness of British aid through an Independent Aid Watchdog.
  • We will commit up to £10 million per year to the 3ie to commission impact evaluations of programmes supported by multilateral aid projects that DFID gives money to.We will volunteer bilateral DFID projects to be evaluated by the 3ie, and actively encourage all multilateral projects to which DFID gives money to have their programmes evaluated by the 3ie.
  • We will publish full information about all of DFID’s projects and programmes – including the results of impact evaluations – on its website, and have them translated into local languages. This information will be published in a standardised format so that it can be freely used on third-party websites.
  • We will also work for greater transparency across the whole aid system. We will require all bodies receiving DFID funds, whether NGOs, multilateral organisations or governments, to move towards greater openness and transparency.

Why are the Conservatives so far ahead of Labour on this one?

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Last August, a consultancy called Agulhas had a look at DfID's progress on aid effectiveness. Overall it rated the department highly, although this paragraph is telling:

"the evaluation finds that DFID (like most donors) likes to project a positive image of its own performance, and tends to gloss over imperfections in the aid process. (Development NGOs are also guilty of overselling the impact of aid in their ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign.) In the view of a number of internal and external respondents to the evaluation, DFID is over-sensitive to external criticism, and unwilling to engage the public in a frank debate on the effectiveness of external assistance."

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

White flag

This paragraph is buried deep in DfID's new white paper on development:

"Part of making international aid more transparent is each donor publishing information of the projects they fund. The UK will make information about the projects we fund available to the public both here in the UK, and in the countries we work, through the launch of a new searchable database on the DFID website." (para 7.21)

Now it's up to everyone else to follow suit.