|Hollway is Review Panel Chair|
A year ago the Auditor General in the Performance Audit Report AUSAID's Management of the Expanding Australian Aid Program identified the need for further improvement in transparency and accountability, particularly for better performance information and detailed program running costs, and the publication of review studies.
Australia did reasonably on transparency in the Quality of Aid Report last year and again in the recently released first global survey of aid transparency by the UK based Publish What You Fund, in the Moderate category, with a score of 65% and eighth overall of 30 major donor countries. However we were behind the Netherlands (score 85%) by a long way, and the UK , EC, Ireland, Asia Development Bank and Sweden. The Assessment compares aid transparency across seven weighted indicators that fall into three categories:
- Commitment to Aid Transparency
- Transparency of Aid to Recipient Government
- Transparency of Aid to Civil Society Organisations
There has been criticism over insufficient transparency and public disclosure for example concerning aid to Afghanistan.
And on a related note, many countries we assist aren't transparent themselves. Another recent survey revealed countries that receive significant Australian aid and fail to meet accepted transparency standards in their own budgets include Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. Malaysia, Pakistan,Timor-Leste and Afghanistan are worse. Cambodia, Vietnam and China are worst of all.
(Update: transparency issues featured in Crikey's Hot Topics reports last year on Who profits from our foreign aid.)
The Panel should interpret the terms of reference broadly and make sure accountability and transparency in the aid program at home, and in recipient countries, gets some attention. Submissions close 2 February.
(Further update: for more on issues relevant to the review see the Lowy Institute Blog)