Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Mad matrices

Here's my response to the IATI consultation on the proposed standard for publishing aid information:

Dear all

I am writing in response to the IATI's Consultation on Part 1 of the IATI standard.

My comment relates to the 5th category of information: 'Results data (indicators on output, outcome and results)'. In Appendix B both of the fields in this category are listed as being free text. Appendix C indicates that they are links to the results matrix and final results matrix respectively. My reading of this suggests to me that you do not therefore anticipate that the information contained in these matrices will be published as part of the standard - only the references (URLs?) pointing to those matrices will appear.

This seems to me a missed opportunity. I would emphasise the tremendous potential value in being able to compare the results and outcomes of different projects and organisations using the information as it appears in these matrices. This is extremely important information which could be used to identify successful initiatives and those which are failing, both across donors and countries.

I would like to suggest, therefore, that the IATI standard makes an attempt to include these matrices. I presume that the perceived difficulty of making the matrices that are used by different organisations compatible with one another has precluded their inclusion in the consultation document, but this is a shame. In an ideal world, the standard would contain a form of matrix which could be used by all projects and organisations. That way, researchers would be able to compare 'like with like'.

If this is too difficult, a middle ground would be simply to include the project matrices in the standard, even if different organisations use different types. Then at a later date researchers would be able to analyse and compare the matrices without having to format them.

Simply having a link to the matrices is really the worst option, as people will in reality find themselves following links to PDFs (from which data cannot be extracted), files which no longer exist, files in a wide variety of formats and so on.

I hope you find this comment useful and relevant. I look forward to seeing the final standard.

Yours sincerely

Francis Bacon


No comments: