IFAD’s independent evaluation ratings database

(found via IFAD posting on Xceval)

[from the IFAD website] “The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) is making publicly available all the ratings on the performance of IFAD-supported operations evaluated since 2002.  As such, IOE joins the few development organizations that currently make such data available to the public at large. The broader aim of disclosing such evaluation data is to further strengthen organizational accountability and transparency (in line with IFAD’s Disclosure and Evaluation Policies), as well as enable others interested (including researches and academics) to conduct their own analysis based on IOE data.

All evaluation ratings may be seen in the Excel database. At the moment, the database contains ratings of 170 projects evaluated by IOE. These ratings also provide the foundation for preparing IOE’s flagship report, the Annual Report on Results and Impact of IFAD operations (ARRI).

As in the past, IOE will continue to update the database annually by including ratings from new independent evaluations conducted each year based on the methodology captured in the IFAD Evaluation Manual. It might be useful to underline that IOE uses a six-point rating scale (where 6 is the highest score and 1 the lowest) to assess the performance of IFAD-funded operations across a series of internationally recognised evaluation criteria (e.g., relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, rural poverty impact, sustainability, gender, and others).

Moreover, in 2006, IOE’s project evaluation ratings criteria were harmonized with those of IFAD’s operations, to ensure greater consistency between independent and self-evaluation data (Agreement between PMD and IOE on the Harmonization of Self-Evaluation and Independent Evaluation Systems of IFAD). The Harmonization agreement was further enhanced in 2011, following the Peer Review of IFAD’s Office of Evaluation and Evaluation Function. The aforementioned agreements also allow to determine any ‘disconnect’ in the reporting of project performance respectively by IOE and IFAD management.”

US Govt Executive Order — Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information

(from The White House,  Office of the Press Secretary, For Immediate Release, May 09, 2013)

Executive Order — Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information


– – – – – – –


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. General Principles. Openness in government strengthens our democracy, promotes the delivery of efficient and effective services to the public, and contributes to economic growth. As one vital benefit of open government, making information resources easy to find, accessible, and usable can fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, and scientific discovery that improves Americans’ lives and contributes significantly to job creation.

Decades ago, the U.S. Government made both weather data and the Global Positioning System freely available. Since that time, American entrepreneurs and innovators have utilized these resources to create navigation systems, weather newscasts and warning systems, location-based applications, precision farming tools, and much more, improving Americans’ lives in countless ways and leading to economic growth and job creation. In recent years, thousands of Government data resources across fields such as health and medicine, education, energy, public safety, global development, and finance have been posted in machine-readable form for free public use on Data.gov. Entrepreneurs and innovators have continued to develop a vast range of useful new products and businesses using these public information resources, creating good jobs in the process.

To promote continued job growth, Government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening Government data to the public, the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable. Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable. In making this the new default state, executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall ensure that they safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security.

Sec. 2. Open Data Policy. (a) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), shall issue an Open Data Policy to advance the
management of Government information as an asset, consistent with my memorandum of January 21, 2009 (Transparency and Open Government), OMB Memorandum M-10-06 (Open Government Directive), OMB and National Archives and Records Administration Memorandum M-12-18 (Managing Government Records Directive), the Office of Science and Technology Policy Memorandum of February 22, 2013 (Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research), and the CIO’s strategy entitled “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People.” The Open Data Policy shall be updated as needed.

(b) Agencies shall implement the requirements of the Open Data Policy and shall adhere to the deadlines for specific actions specified therein. When implementing the Open Data Policy, agencies shall incorporate a full analysis of privacy, confidentiality, and security risks into each stage of the information lifecycle to identify information that should not be released. These review processes should be overseen by the senior agency official for privacy. It is vital that agencies not release information if doing so would violate any law or policy, or jeopardize privacy, confidentiality, or national security.

Sec. 3. Implementation of the Open Data Policy. To facilitate effective Government-wide implementation of the Open Data Policy, I direct the following:

(a) Within 30 days of the issuance of the Open Data Policy, the CIO and CTO shall publish an open online repository of tools and best practices to assist agencies in integrating the Open Data Policy into their operations in furtherance of their missions. The CIO and CTO shall regularly update this online repository as needed to ensure it remains a resource to facilitate the adoption of open data practices.

(b) Within 90 days of the issuance of the Open Data Policy, the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management, CIO, and Administrator of OIRA shall work with the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, Chief Financial Officers Council, Chief Information Officers Council, and Federal Records Council to identify and initiate implementation of measures to support the integration of the Open Data Policy requirements into Federal acquisition and grant-making processes. Such efforts may include developing sample requirements language, grant and contract language, and workforce tools for agency acquisition, grant, and information management and technology professionals.

(c) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Chief Performance Officer (CPO) shall work with the President’s Management Council to establish a Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal to track implementation of the Open Data Policy. The CPO shall work with agencies to set incremental performance goals, ensuring they have metrics and milestones in place to monitor advancement toward the CAP Goal. Progress on these goals shall be analyzed and reviewed by agency leadership, pursuant to the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-352).

(d) Within 180 days of the date of this order, agencies shall report progress on the implementation of the CAP Goal to the CPO. Thereafter, agencies shall report progress quarterly, and as appropriate.

Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(d) Nothing in this order shall compel or authorize the disclosure of privileged information, law enforcement information, national security information, personal information, or information the disclosure of which is prohibited by law.

(e) Independent agencies are requested to adhere to this order.



World Bank – Raising the Bar on Transparency, Accountability and Openness

Blog posting by Hannah George on Thu, 02/16/2012 – 18:01 Found via @TimShorten

“The World Bank has taken landmark steps to make information accessible to the public and globally promote transparency and accountability, according to the first annual report on the World Bank’s Access to Information (AI) Policy.[20/02/2012 – links is not working – here is a link to a related doc, World Bank Policy on Access to Information Progress Report : January through March 2011]

“The World Bank’s Access to Information Policy continues to set the standard for other institutions to strive for,” said Chad Dobson, executive director of the Bank Information CenterPublish What You Fund recently rated the Bank “best performer” in terms of aid transparency out of 58 donors for the second year in a row.  Furthermore, the Center for Global Development and Brookings ranked the International Development Association (the World Bank’s Fund for the Poorest) as a top donor in transparency and learning in its 2011 Quality of Official Development Assistance Assessment (QuODA).

“Unleashing the potential of AusAID’s performance data”

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


Randomised controlled trial testing the effects of transparency on health care in Uganda

(from the great AidInfo website)

“At aidinfo we conduct research and liaise with aid donors and recipients to build up a case for aid transparency. We want to show that improving and increasing the amount that donors report on their aid contributions can help communities to track aid spending. In turn, donors and governments will be more accountable for their aid spending. It is expected that in this way aid will reach more people on the ground, helping to contribute more in the fight against poverty.

This is all well and good, but it is difficult to prove. Svensson’s work, then, is of great importance to us here.

This Study by Reinikka and Svensson (2005) found that in 1995 only 20 percent of a primary education grant program to rural Uganda actually reached its intended target. This figure rose by a striking 60 percent in 2001 when information was published detailing where this money was going; a full 80 percent of funds reached their intended destination, greatly improving education services in the area.

Björkman and Svensson (2009) followed up on this study with a compelling randomised controlled trial testing the effects of transparency on health care in Uganda. The experiment randomly assigned community health clinics to receive published ‘report cards’ and NGO-organised public meetings on the quality of the clinics’ health care.

The results of this transparency ‘treatment’ rivalled the effects of the best health interventions involving expensive new medicines, equipment, and procedures. Waiting time for care decreased, absenteeism among doctors and nurses plummeted, clinics got cleaner, fewer drugs were stolen, 40-50 percent more children received dietary supplements and vaccines, health services got used more, and, powerfully, 33 percent fewer children died under the age of five. This amounted to 550 saved lives in a small area of Uganda encompassing merely 55,000 households.

This is strong evidence that access to information about services empowers citizens to get better services and saves lives.”

Measuring Impact: Lessons from the MCC for the Broader Impact Evaluation Community

William Savedoff and Christina Droggitis, Centre for Global Development, Aug 2011. Available as pdf (2 pages)


“One organization that has taken the need for impact evaluation seriously is the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The first of the MCC programs came to a close this fiscal year, and in the next year the impact evaluations associated with them will begin to be published.

Politicians’ responses to the new wave of evaluations will set a precedent, either one that values transparency and encourages aid agencies to be public about what they are learning or one that punishes transparency and encourages agencies to hide findings or simply cease commissioning evaluations.”

AusAID’s Information Publication Scheme: Draft Plan & Consultation

The 12th April 2011 Draft plan is now available in pdf and MS Word


“AusAID is the Australian Government’s Agency for International Development, an executive agency within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio. Its primary role is the implementation and oversight of the Australian Government aid program. The aim of the program is to assist
developing countries reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development, in line with Australia’s national interest.

Reforms to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) have established the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). The purpose of the IPS is to give the Australian community access to information held by the Australian Government and enhance and promote Australia’s representative
democracy by increasing public participation in government processes and increasing scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of government activities and decisions.

AusAID is committed to greater transparency through the implementation of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) and other initiatives that will introduced. As Australia’s ODA commitment has increased, public interest in the aid program has correspondingly increased and this will
continue. Implementation of the IPS will provide more information to Australians about AusAID’s activities and help increase public participation understanding and scrutiny of Australia’s aid program.

This draft plan has been prepared to assist AusAID implement the IPS, in accordance with section 8(1) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 1982 and to give the Australian public the opportunity to comment and provide feedback on this plan.

As AusAID’s final plan is implemented it will be progressively updated in light of experience and feedback. The list of documents that is a core part of this plan will, in particular, be amended.”

The consultation: Visit this AusAid website to see how to participate and to read the views of others who have already contributed.


Eight lessons from three years working on transparency

Blog posting by Owen Barder
February 22nd, 2011

“I’ve spent the last three years working on aid transparency. As I’m moving on to a very exciting new role (watch this space for more details) this seems a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned in the last three years.

This is a self-indulgently long essay about the importance of aid transparency, and the priorities for how it should be achieved. Busy readers can just read the 8-point summary below. For a very clear and concise introduction to the importance of aid transparency, this video by my (former) colleagues at aidinfo is very good.

I’m going to talk in a separate post about the exciting progress that has been made towards a new system of aid transparency, which I believe builds on many of these lessons, and on the next steps for the transparency movement more generally.

The 8-point summary

There is apparently a law that every document in development must have an “Executive Summary”. (Not just a “summary”, mind. It has to be for executives.) So here are what I think are the eight most important things I’ve learned in the last three years about transparency in general, and aid transparency in particular:

1. To make a difference, transparency has to be citizen-centred not donor-centred. A citizen-centred transparency mechanism would allow citizens of developing countries to combine and use information from many different donor agencies; and provide aid information compatible with the classifications of their own country budget.

2. Today’s ways of publishing information serve the needs of the powerful, not citizens. Existing mechanisms for publishing aid information were designed by the powerful for the powerful. Until the aidinfo team started 3 years ago, nobody had ever done a systematic study of the information needs of all stakeholders, including citizens, parliamentarians and civil society, let alone thought about how those needs could be met. That’s why current systems meet only the needs of donors, and powerful parts of governments.

3. People in developing countries want transparency of execution not just allocation. There are important differences between the information requirements of people in donor countries and people in developing countries. Current systems for aid transparency focus mainly on transparency of aid allocation, because that is what donor country stakeholders are largely interested in, and not enough on transparency of spending execution, which is of primary interest to people in developing countries.

4. Show, don’t tell. The citizens of donor nations are increasingly sceptical of annual reports and press releases. In aid as in other public services they want to be able to see for themselves the detail of how their money is being used and what difference it is making. They increasingly expect to be actively involved in decisions, and they are less willing to delegate the decisions entirely to experts. Donor agencies – whether government agencies, international organisations or NGOs – will have to adapt rapidly to become platforms for citizen engagement.

5. Transparency of aid execution will drive out waste, bureaucracy and corruption. There is, unfortunately, quite a bit of waste, bureaucracy and corruption in the aid system. There is good evidence that this kind of waste is rapidly reduced when the flow of money is made transparent. Corruption and waste prosper in dark places. Transparency of planned future aid spending will also help to increase spending efficiency and value for money.

6. Social accountability could be Development 3.0. The results agenda in aid agencies is currently too top down and pays too little attention to the power of bottom up information from the intended beneficiaries of aid. Increased accountability to citizens may be the key to unlocking better service delivery, improved governance and faster development.

7. The burden of proof should be on those who advocate secrecy. We have published a compelling business case for greater transparency, with all the uncertainties this kind of analysis entails. So where is the business case for secrecy, which would be far harder to quantify or defend? Why is the (inevitable) uncertainty in this kind of analysis allowed to count against the case for transparency, when the same uncertainty would deal a much greater blow against the case for secrecy?

8. Give citizens of developing countries the benefit of the doubt. Transparency is necessary but not sufficient for more effective aid. But the fact that transparency alone will not solve every problem should not be an excuse for aid agencies to shirk their responsibilities to be transparent. Nor should we be too attentive to vested interests in the aid industry telling us that transparency is not enough. Citizens of developing countries will be more innovative and effective than some people give them credit for when we give the information they need to hold the powerful to account.

That’s the summary. If any of that whets your appetite and you want the long version, read on.”

Nature Editorial: To ensure their results are reproducible, analysts should show their workings.

See Devil in the Details, Nature, Volume:470, Pages: 305–306 , 17 February 2011.

How many aid agencies could do the same, when their projects manage to deliver good results? Are there lessons to learned here?

Article text:

As analysis of huge data sets with computers becomes an integral tool of research, how should researchers document and report their use of software? This question was brought to the fore when the release of e-mails stolen from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, generated a media fuss in 2009, and has been widely discussed, including in this journal. The issue lies at the heart of scientific endeavour: how detailed an information trail should researchers leave so that others can reproduce their findings?

The question is perhaps most pressing in the field of genomics and sequence analysis. As biologists process larger and more complex data sets and publish only the results, some argue that the reporting of how those data were analysed is often insufficient. Continue reading “Nature Editorial: To ensure their results are reproducible, analysts should show their workings.”

Value for Money: How are other donors approaching ‘value for money’ in their aid programming?

….A question posed to the Research Helpdesk of the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre

“Key findings: DFID appears to have gone the furthest among aid agencies in developing the concept of ‘value for money’ (VFM). It is the only agency that explicitly uses the terminology frequently in its policies and procedures and has a Value for Money department. DFID’s approach to VFM involves assessing whether level of results achieved represent good value for money against the costs incurred. Processes include the use of logframes, economic appraisals and portfolio reviews. Newer initiatives include the adoption of a business case model for project approval and the development of unit cost metrics in key sectors. Other donors, while not explicitly adopting ‘value for money’ terminology, aim to achieve VFM through rigorous economic analysis and results-based management.

The ‘value for money’ agenda has also been linked to efforts to improve accountability and transparency. This requires strengthening audit bodies, parliaments, media, civil societies and independent watchdogs such that they can hold government to account for spending. It also involves greater transparency, in particular publishing information on projects and allocation of funds.”

Full response: http://www.gsdrc.org/docs/open/HD712.pdf

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