Review of Impact and Effectiveness of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives

[from the IDS website]
McGee,R. and Gaventa, J.23-Nov-10
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Transparency and accountability have emerged over the past decade as key ways to address both developmental failures and democratic deficits. In the development context, the argument is that through greater accountability, ‘leaky pipes’ of corruption and inefficiency will be repaired, aid will be channelled more effectively, and in turn development initiatives will produce greater and more visible results. For scholars and practitioners of democracy, a parallel argument holds that following the twentieth-century wave of democratisation, democracy now has to ‘deliver the goods’, especially in terms of material outcomes, and that new forms of democratic accountability can help it do so. While traditional forms of state-led accountability are increasingly found to be inadequate, thousands of multi-stakeholder and citizen-led approaches have come to the fore, to supplement or supplant them.Despite their rapid growth, and the growing donor support they receive, little attention has been paid to the impact and effectiveness of these new transparency and accountability initiatives. Responding to this gap, this report, based on a review of literature and experience across the field with special focus on five sectors of transparency and accountability work, aims to improve understanding among policy-makers and practitioners of the available evidence and identify gaps in knowledge to inform a longer-term research agenda. Commissioned by the Policy Research Fund of the UK Department of International Development (DFID), this project also hopes to inform the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, a new donor collaborative that includes the Ford Foundation, Hivos, the International Budget Partnership, the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Institute, the Revenue Watch Institute, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Download Review of Impact and Effectiveness of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives – Executive summary

Review of Impact and Effectiveness of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives – Service delivery

Review of Impact and Effectiveness of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives – Budget processes

Review of Impact and Effectiveness of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives – Freedom of information

Review of Impact and Effectiveness of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives – Natural resource governance

Review of Impact and Effectiveness of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives – Aid transparency

Review of Impact and Effectiveness of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives – Abstracts

Aid Transparency Assessment

(from Karin Christiansen,Publish What You Fund )

“I am proud to share with you Publish What You Fund’s Aid Transparency Assessment that we have been working on over the last year. This is the first global assessment of the transparency of 30 major donors across seven indicators from eight data sources. The indicators cover donors’ commitment to aid transparency, transparency to recipient governments, and transparency to civil society.

The assessment is available on the new Publish What You Fund website. Explore the data yourself and see how donors perform.

Our first major finding highlights the necessity of donors building an international standard. The lack of comparable data meant we could not do the type of bottom up assessment we wished. However, the indicators developed from the limited data available provide an interesting comparison of current levels of donor transparency. We are planning to carry on with this work on an annual basis.

We hope there will be with more comprehensive, comparable and timely data to draw on in the future and would very much appreciate feedback, suggestions and thoughts on how to take this work forward.

The Assessment will be presented at the OECD DAC workshop on transparent development co-operation today, at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Bangkok in November and at workshops in Washington in December.”

Do Less Transparent Donors Allocate Aid Differently?

Jörg Faust , German Development Institute D-I-E, 2010, APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available as pdf

“Foreign aid is said to be more effective for development if it is allocated to relatively poor recipient countries’ with relatively sound political institutions. This allocation rule also meets the preferences of citizens in donor countries, who expect their government to spent aid on countries that are needy and institutionally prepared to use it well. Unfortunately, aid allocation in the past often has diverged from this rule because donor governments and other bureaucratic agents often pursue special interest politics. This paper studies the variance of aid allocation patterns across donor countries. It relates this variance of aid allocation patterns to different levels of political transparency within donor countries. Where political transparency is high, donor governments are more accountable and have less maneuvering space to diverge from technocratic expertise and citizen’s preferences. An empirical test, using data for the 1998-2008 period confirms this hypothesis. Donor countries with higher levels of political transparency allocate aid more according to recipient countries’ neediness and institutional performance”

DfID Seeks Suggestions for Implementing Aid Transparency Initiative

on Devex, By Eliza Villarino on 06 September 2010

“The U.K. Department for International Development launches an online discussion to seek input on how it should implement the UKaid Transparency Guarantee.

The U.K. Department for International Development has opened an online discussion to help it decide how to implement its aid transparency initiative.

The UKaid Transparency Guarantee forms part of the coalition government’s commitment to boost the transparency of DfID aid. As reported by Devex, U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell announced the guarantee, along with the intention to create an independent aid watchdog, in June.

DfID is urging civil society groups, think tanks and other organizations working on transparency to send an e-mail to if they wish to contribute to the discussion.”

PS – 19th October 2010: A summary of the online discussion is now available here as a pdf: 2010 Summary of Huddle Discussions on UKATG

DFID Draft Structural Reform Plan July 2010

Available  on the DFID website and as a pdf.

“Structural Reform Plans are the key tool of the Coalition Government for making departments accountable for the implementation of the reforms set out in the Coalition Agreement. They replace the old, top-down systems of targets and central micromanagement.

The reforms set out in each department’s SRP are designed to turn government on its head, taking power away from Whitehall and putting it into the hands of people and communities. Once these reforms are in place, people themselves will have the power to improve our country and our public services, through the mechanisms of local democratic accountability, competition, choice, and social action.

The reform plans set out in this document are consistent with and form part of the Department’s contribution to the Spending Review. All departmental spending is subject to the Spending Review.

We have adopted a cautious view of the timescales for delivering all legislative measures due to the unpredictability of pressures on Parliamentary time.”
Continue reading “DFID Draft Structural Reform Plan July 2010”

“Full transparency and new independent watchdog will give UK taxpayers value for money in aid”

Copied from the DFID website, 3rd June 2010:

[Please post your Comments below and/or on the Guardian Katine website ]

“British taxpayers will see exactly how and where overseas aid money is being spent and a new independent watchdog will help ensure this aid is good value for money, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has announced.

In his first major speech as Development Secretary, Mr Mitchell said he had taken the key steps towards creating an independent aid watchdog to ensure value for money. He also announced a new UKaid Transparency Guarantee to ensure that full information on all DFID’s spending is published on the departmental website.

The information will also be made available to the people who benefit from aid funding: communities and families living in the world’s poorest countries.

These moves come as part of a wider drive to refocus DFID’s work so British taxpayers’ money is spent transparently and on key priority issues such as maternal mortality and disease prevention.”

In Mr Mitchell’s speech, delivered at the Royal Society with Oxfam and Policy Exchange, he argued that overseas aid is both morally right and in Britain’s national interest but that taxpayers need to see more evidence their money is being spent well. Continue reading ““Full transparency and new independent watchdog will give UK taxpayers value for money in aid””

Open Aid: Public Online Monitoring for Better Aid

A new website, launched in December 2009

What is Public Online Monitoring

Public Online Monitoring is an approach to bring development projects into the public realm. Public Online Monitoring improves access to project information and to facilitate communication among project stakeholders using an online platform.

OpenAid is a German NGO based in Hannover created in order to make Public Online Monitoring reality.

Public Online Monitoring has four key elements:

1) Detailed information about individual development projects, online, easy to find and easy to understand. This element is the realm of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), of the AidDATA project and of donors. OpenAid lobbies for more transparent aid information in German aid agencies.

2) Sector specific online guidance for civil society stakeholders on issues critical to monitoring (e.g. common sector specific forms of corruption).This guidance should support non-experts to ask critical questions and encourage stakeholders to monitor projects in their home area.

3) An online forum for stakeholders to meet, to exchange information, to voice concerns, to defend interests, to discuss policy. Such a forum can should involve local project management, donors, local government and politicians, local media representatives, local NGOs and citizens. It can also involve interested citizens from other countries, development experts and taxpayers in donor countries.

4) Linking up the online forum to people without access to the internet through an involvement of local radio stations and newspapers, creative use of mobile phones and through local NGO activities.

Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.

Being a keen advocate of greater transparency by aid agencies and programmes this article interested me.

See it on the New Replublic website, published on October 9, 2009

The author, Lawrence Lessig, “is professor of law and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard Law School, and the author most recently of Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Penguin). He is on the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation and on the board of

International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) First Annual Conference

Date: 20th/21st October 2009

Venue: Amazon Auditorium, World Forum, The Hague

” In the conference to be opened by Bert Koenders, Dutch Development Minister, participants from donor agencies, partner country governments, and CSOs will come together to explore aid transparency within the broader context of ownership, domestic accountability and mutual accountability. Click here for the draft conference programme. Please contact for information.

Link to IATI website

US Congress Committee on Financial Services that looked into ‘The World Bank’s Disclosure Policy Review and the Role of Democratic Participatory Processes in Achieving Successful Development Outcomes’.

(from the Pelican email list)

Dear all,

In reaction to the message that I sent to you earlier today, Alnoor Ebrahim sent me a link to a recent hearing of the US Congress Committee on Financial Services that looked into ‘The World Bank’s Disclosure Policy Review and the Role of Democratic Participatory Processes in Achieving Successful Development Outcomes’.

At this hearing, he gave a testimony based on the results of research he did into the reforms and accountability efforts undertaken at the World Bank over the past fifteen years, particularly those in which civil society organizations played a significant role. A PDF of the written testimony is available here: <>

The testimonies of all five witnesses (Joseph Stiglitz, Richard Bissell, Vijaya Ramachandran, Thomas Blanton and Alnoor) as well as a video of the hearing are available on this page: <> ,

From: Niels Keijzer/ECDPM

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