The ‘commercial advantage’ of boosting aid transparency

    David Hall-Matthews, managing director at Publish What You Fund, says publishing data to IATI streamlines reporting schedules and opens partnership opportunities. Photo by: Publish What You Fund

    Over time, the U.K. Department for International Development will be requiring all organizations it works with to publish their data to IATI. What would this mean for development consultancies and subcontractors that work with DfID?

    An opportunity to streamline their reporting schedules, prove they deliver value for money and partner with organizations whose work complements theirs. That’s according to David Hall-Matthews, managing director at Publish What You Fund.

    In an interview with Devex, Hall-Matthews clarified that meeting IATI standards is not as difficult or costly as many nongovernmental organizations, development consultancies and other implementing partners believe. All of them are already reporting most of the data IATI requires directly to DfID. Publishing to IATI means reporting “will be done in a common format, [data] will be comparable and [data] will be public. So it will be globally available information, which will increase accountability.” Further, consultancies and subcontractors can ask help from DfID and other partners, and from large NGOs. And they don’t have to publish every single thing either.

    Once they’ve published data to IATI, the reporting system becomes simpler. In the development business, it is “quite common” to work with numerous clients or contractors that have varying reporting requirements. One global system eliminates the need to prepare separate reports for each partner.

    Hall-Matthews also noted how consultancies can use IATI compliance as a means of disproving critics. DfID has recently come under fire for allegedly spending too much money on consultancies and subcontractors. IATI is an opportunity for DfID’s implementing partners to demonstrate that they deliver value for money and are effective, and “how useful an awful lot of them are.”

    And from a business perspective, consultancies can go to the IATI registry themselves to identify possible partnerships. One example Hall-Matthews gave is that if a consultancy is unable to bid for a contract that requires work that goes beyond what it does, it can use the registry to look for an organization that can provide that additional service. They can then “link up” and submit a joint bid for the project.

    Publishing to IATI, however, is not effort-free. The best way to minimize costs and effort is to integrate IATI compliance in the next information technology upgrade, which most organizations do every two or three years.

    “If you do that, you then end up in a situation where publication to IATI is actually automated, and which means it would require less effort than current reporting,” Hall-Matthews explained, adding that while compliance requires “a little bit of work and cost upfront,” it offers significant savings on costs and labor in the long run.

    Read more:

    What other benefits could implementing partners gain by complying with IATI standards? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

    About the author

    • Aimee Rae Ocampo

      As former Devex editor for business insight, Aimee created and managed multimedia content and cutting-edge analysis for executives in international development.