A posting on the Development Policy Blog by Stephen Howes, on 15 february 2012.
This blog examines AusAID’s Office of Development Effectiveness latest annual report released just before Christmas 2010, which was published in two parts, one providing an international comparative perspective (and summarized in this blog), the other drawing on and assessing internal performance reporting. In this blog the author continues his analysis of the “internal assessment” report.
He points out how the report data shows that poor performance is a much more significant problem than outright fraud. He also examines the results of ODE’s spotchecks on the quality of the self-assessment ratings. There is much else there in the blog that is also of interest.
Of special interest are the concluding paras: “This systematic collation of project self-ratings and the regular use of spot checks is best practice for any aid agency, and something AusAID should take pride in. The problem is that, as illustrated above, the reporting and analysis of these two rich sources of data is at the current time hardly even scratching the surface of their potential.
One way forward would be for ODE or some other part of AusAID to undertake and publish a more comprehensive report and analysis of this data. That would be a good idea, both to improve aid effectiveness and to enhance accountability.
But I have another suggestion. If the data is made public, we can all do our own analysis. This would tremendously enhance the debate in Australia on aid effectiveness, and take the attention away from red-herrings such as fraud towards real challenges such as value-for-money.
AusAID’s newly-released Transparency Charter[pdf] commits the organization to releasing publishing “detailed information on AusAID’s work” including “the results of Australian aid activities and our evaluations and research.” The annual release of both the self-ratings and the spot-checks would be a simple step, but one which would go a long way to fulfilling the Charter’s commitments.”
PS: Readers may be interested in similar data made available by DFID in recent years. See Do we need a minimum level of failure blog posting