Sunday, 31 July 2011

In response to the Information Commissioner's decision notice about my FOI request for information in DfID's ARIES database, DfID sent me a CD with this Excel file.

It contains internal performance scores for about 2,800 projects conducted by DfID. Most of the scores were recorded either as part of a project's annual review or when a project finished.

I have conducted a very preliminary exploration of the data, which shows the variation in the performance of DfID's programmes (called 'Budget centres'):

[This table is based on the most recent (non-zero) output scores for each project that had them. 'Budget centres' with only 1 project are not shown]

Even this initial examination of the data poses some interesting questions about what is being funded and makes one curious to know more. Why have projects in Liberia done so well while those in Rwanda have floundered?

The dataset also contains information on projects which have had their funding suspended, information about the perceived risk of each project and detailed information about the desired outputs from each project. I hope others will help integrate this dataset with other datasets to reveal new patterns.

The letter I received from DfID made the point that under the UK Aid Transparency Guarantee "from 2011/12 onwards, project scores will be published as part of ARs [Annual Reviews] and PCRs [Post Completion Reports] and as a separate dataset". This is particularly encouraging as it would mean that the publication of performance information would be standard and regular, rather than only in response to ad hoc requests like this.

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