Through using IATI data in Liberia, we have become aware that some donors are publishing data that is not possible to use at country level. I have contacted the relevant organisations and understand they’re all working to fix their data (which is great, so I am not complaining about anyone specifically!)
However, I wanted to bring these issues to the attention of the community as there appears to be some misunderstanding that publishing data in this way is in line with the Standard (or will provide useful data).
The two main issues I encountered are:
publishing annual totals for previous years. This data looks odd when mapped against country fiscal years. For example, this project shows all disbursements against Q2, because disbursements in 2012-2015 were recorded at 31st December of each year, which is Q2 in Liberia’s financial year (July-June).
publishing cumulative disbursements in the current year. This means that as we move through the year, spending that would currently (as of 31 Jan) be attributed to Liberia’s Q3 (Jan-Mar) would become attributed to Q4 (Apr-Jun) and then shift into the next fiscal year (beginning in July).
Suggestions for improving guidance
The guidance on the IATI Standard site already states that publishers should consider “how to achieve”
Sense - IATI data should be represented in units that are manageable for the publisher and meaningful for the user - particularly when focusing on aggregation of transaction data.
It would be great to be a bit more explicit in guidance and communications to encourage publishers to:
publish a breakdown of disbursements (at least monthly, though actual transactions would be preferable to allow for accurate currency conversion)
ensure transactions are always actual rather than cumulative