Discussion post: Identifying government entities


(Mark Brough) #21

Hi @TimDavies, thanks for your response here, and apologies it has taken me a few days to reply.

TL;DR…

I think for public bodies, the publication guidance could be simplified to something like:

For identifying central government public bodies, use the code in the most recent Chart of Accounts; you can also find these codes in the government’s enacted budget documents. You should prefix the code with the country code and GOV, e.g. TZ-GOV-50 for the Ministry of Finance and Planning in Tanzania.

It would also be useful to encourage the publication of these existing codelists in nicer (preferably at least machine-readable forms), in line with @YohannaLoucheur’s suggestion.


Longer response…

So, my frustration was based on the fact that the proposals of the paper do not seem actionable to me, and some of them were discussed a while ago here. In addition, they did not really reflect what I thought was quite a productive discussion at the last IATI TAG. CoA codes exist and we can already start using them, at least to refer to central government bodies.

Responses to your points:

(1) CoA administrative / organisation classifications generally exist for most countries. Even if they are not published in a nice way, they exist and they are a reference framework for core government functions. The codes are generally visible in most budget documents, for example, so even if there is not a nice clean list of all the codes, they are generally possible to find. They have to be maintained in order for government to spend money, so are likely to be an extremely solid point of reference, especially compared to codelists which other government bodies might try and maintain but which cater only to meeting open data objectives.

(2) The org-id.guide methodology kind of works for public bodies but having some specific rules on how you would use CoA codes would be necessary. We talked previously about the fact that CoAs occasionally change (e.g. the 2008 version or the 2015 version, etc.), and codes may be re-used, depending on the country. Having some standard way of constructing these registration lists would be useful. Some research determining whether BD-GOV-2017 is required or just BD-GOV would work (for example) would be really helpful for allowing others to refer to these organisations in a distributed way, even if the entry had not yet been added to org-id.guide (or even if org-id.guide is no longer maintained, for example).

(3) I would take a look at most budget documents where these codes appear to be consistently used – see the IBP budget document library; e.g.:

This was just a quick scan but it every budget I looked at has something similar.

Super happy to help with improving the research handbook but I think it would also be useful to have some general agreement on how to start using these codes which already exist.