The United States welcomes the opportunity to review and comment on the IATI Diagnostic Report. It appears to be a fair and accurate picture of the current IATI structure with one exception detailed in our further comments. However, we are concerned that the authors use “multi stakeholder initiative,” “organization,” “institution,” and even “Standard” interchangeably. We believe, particularly based on the more exhaustive Johnson and Lenczner report, the term “multi stakeholder initiative should be used consistently.” We agree that, at its core, IATI is a data standard. However, the governance of the standard is done via a multi-stakeholder initiative that involves outreach, advocacy, training etc. so we think it is a bit simplistic to refer to IATI as only a standard."
· We concur with the page 4 finding on Accountability of the Secretariat. More broadly, the topic of accountability would be important to look at and clarify across all parts of the structure though - including working groups and task forces. I’m not sure the lines of accountability are always clear.
On page 5, agree with the accountability line and location of the TAG
On page 7 agree in regards to accountability in the Program Manager role
· Page 6 - Agree with the points on the need for better, multi-year strategic planning and the ability to situate annual plans in a broader framework.
· Page 9 - The discussion of the technical work lacks balance. It appears to overlook the products and constant technical vigilance that have allowed the standard to advance and IATI data to begin to be used. For example, the topic sentence that suggests that “it is expected that the technical function of IATI will be adequately operational by the December 2019-April 2020 period” not only seems to be missing something, but has no relationship to the rest of the paragraph, which veers into reporting systems within the Secretariat. However, we do agree that communication between the tech team and generalist members and users can be difficult, and better communication lines could be established - particularly outside of the Discuss forum or Github and in a way that isn’t exclusive just to developers or technical members or users. We see this as something that could be improved, but also would recommend that some positive feedback about the work of the technical team be added to restore balance. It could also be that there is an assumption that “technical” is being equated with “technical assistance,” which should not be the case.
The report has a number of inconsistencies or factual inaccuracies that should be ameliorated in the final:
· Page 1 - The report asserts that IATI is “led” by a consortium of five organizations. By Page 2, it has noted that the Secretariat is overseen by the MA and the Governing Board, not the other way around.
· Page 2 - The report’s authors apparently failed to note in the minutes from the October 2017 MA that the decision was taken to form a Private Sector constituency group separate from the CSO and Others group.
· Page 6 - It should be noted, all bidders on the contract when IATI was separated from DFID were asked to provide a strategic plan, and that the strategic plan proposed by the consortium for IATI (with some adjustments) was part of the contract. To the best of our recollection, that strategic plan was extended with a few changes at the last meeting of the Steering Committee before it was phased out in favor of the Members’ Assembly. We believe that this strategy has served as the basis for the annual work plans and budgets.
· Page 6 - The report asserts that the Governing Board is to provide strategic direction to IATI, whereas on P. 2, the report states that the MA was set up to be a guiding and decision-making body. Could the Page 6 reference be to the IATI Secretariat, rather than to the entire MSI? Whatever the intended meaning, the inconsistency should be resolved.
· Page 6 - We would like to know on what basis the report states that “The annual approval mechanism is of little more than symbolic value, given process, coordination and time constraints that reportedly plague this exercise with an ever-growing membership.” The United States takes its fiduciary and governance responsibilities very seriously as they relate to the annual work plan and budget approval and any ad hoc decisions throughout the year. We study the documents, review the figures, ask serious questions and request changes as needed. We have observed that other MA members do the same.
· Page 8 - As previously stated, we take exception to the characterization of IATI as equated to a data Standard. How can a MSI be a data standard? IATI may be best known for its data standard, and it might create, update and maintain a data standard, but that does not make it a data standard.