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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Open data tick for Australia but information on foreign aid short of the standard

Mixed results for Australia in two reports released in the lead up to the Open Government Partnership Summit in London: a comparative good showing on publication of government data, but just making it into the fair group for transparency in the publication of information on our foreign aid program in accordance with the international standard. One recommendation to lift performance in that area is that Australia's OGP national action plan should include 'stretch commitments' to reach the standard. Would be great to hear from that sector as CSO interest in the OGP sparks up. 

The Open Knowledge Foundation 2013 Open Data Index, shows that "governments are still not providing enough information in an accessible form to their citizens and businesses." Australia  and New Zealand tied eighth of 70 countries behind the UK, US, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. We bombed out on transactional level month to month government expenditure on specific items.

In the International Aid Transparency Initiative Index 2013 Australia was 24 of 67 
donors rated. The US Millennium Challenge Corporation ranked first, scoring 89%, more than double the average score. 
Australia scores 43.1%, placing it in the fair category. Athough Australia is an IATI publisher, there is a clear need for improvement in the quality of its IATI data. It is the seventh lowest scoring IATI publisher amongst bilateral organisations (ahead of only the UK FCO, U.S. Department of Defense, Irish Aid, Finland, U.S. Department of State and Spain). Australia performs well on organisation planning and basic activity information for which it posts scores that are above the average for the fair category. Australia scores less well on activity financial information and the inclusion of links to its activity documents in its IATI data. Some activity documents appear to be available on AusAID’s website, suggesting that they could also be published through its IATI feed.

  •  AusAID should improve its publication to IATI so it is comprehensive and uses all fields. It should update its implementation schedule by early 2014 so it is more ambitious, aiming for full implementation of the IATI standard and monthly publication by the end of 2015.
  • AusAID should work with other Australian aid-spending departments to publish to IATI and to promote access and use of Australian aid information via an open data portal.
  • Australia should produce an OGP National Action Plan to include stretching commitments on implementing IATI.

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