How AusAID can boost aid transparency

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Australian Agency for International Development staff at an early childhood learning development center in Myanmar. AusAID needs to do more if it wants to top an index measuring donors’ transparency efforts. Photo by: Christopher Davy / AusAID / CC BY

The Australian Agency for International Development has made some progress toward aid transparency this year. But as with other aid organizations, it needs to do more if it wants to top an index measuring donors’ transparency efforts.

This is what Jonathan Pryke, a researcher for the Development Policy Center, said in a blog post. While the donor agency gained a “moderate” score in Publish What You Fund’s 2012 Aid Transparency Index, it is still far from what other agencies have achieved so far.

The U.K. Department for International Development, with a score of “good,” topped this year’s index. Aid advocates have also started to see DfID as a game changer in the field following the launch of its aid transparency challenge this December.

AusAid published to the International Aid Transparency Initiative this year. It has also committed to publishing a number of country, regional and thematic transparency pages by the end of the year. But Pryke said the agency can “do a lot more.”

For easier access, the aid agency should implement a basic search function that will help researchers or aid organizations sift through countless information on the website. This could include filters for, say, countries or regions.

Pryke also recommends that AusAID should only include documents related to a particular project in the projects page. Most importantly, AusAID should provide detailed information on how funds for a particular program or project is being spent  an issue a number of donors need to address as well.

“This would be an invaluable addition to AusAID’s commitment to transparency,” Pryke writes.

His other recommendations include AusAID separating current from expired strategies, publishing information more promptly  not six months late  and providing a timetable when such information will come out.

Aid transparency has largely been linked to aid effectiveness. But many aid organizations still fail to deliver on the matter, and several have still not published to IATI, finding it too cumbersome. But Publish What You Fund Managing Director David Hall-Matthews told Devex in an interview that publishing to the IATI has its advantages: It can open up new partnerships and disprove aid critics.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.