IATI Strategic Direction

(Joni Hillman) #1



On behalf of the new Governing Board I am pleased to transmit the draft Strategic Direction (see attachment), developed by the interim Members Advisory Group and further refined by the new Governing Board. This work was carried out at the request of members during the final Steering Committee meeting in December 2015.

The Board now seeks feedback from members on this document. You are invited to share your comments on the attached document by 2nd June. The Secretariat will assist in compiling all feedback which will be used by the Board to develop their recommendations for members ahead of the Members’ Assembly meeting on 29-30 June.

IATI - Strategic Direction Board Paper - Member consultation.docx (810.0 KB)

We are also seeking feedback on the draft Vision and Mission paper. Please visit this forum post to read the paper and share your thoughts.

(theo.sande) #2

Making very good use of the draft strategic direction, my suggestion is to regroup and revise it roughly as follows:

First priority in the strategic direction is to assure good quality data and substantially improve upon the existing data, also including coverage, depth etc. Datasets should be carefully monitored and publishers are to be provided with feedback on omissions, mistakes, gaps etc. Especially with a view to:
Second priority is to encourage and promote the use of these data along the lines as sketched in the draft version. Through the use of IATI data it becomes apparent:
Third priority to maintain and improve upon the standard and keep it up to date with user needs.
Fourth priority communications serves as the vehicle (inside out AND outside in) to find and maintain the right balance between quality - use - standard.

In my view, persuading new partners to publish against our IATI standard can far more effectively be done by member/publishers who persuade their development partners to report to them in the form of a -qualitatively high- IATI dataset. These members/publishers should also pick up a supporting responsibility towards their development partners, as a kind of second tier support.

All these remarks and suggestions I have processed into the draft document that was submitted. If I can’t share it with a link, I will share it integrally through yet another reply.

(Asor Henry Nkang) #3

One of the critical elements to drive or promote IATI data use is the technical skill required to generate, filter and analyze the data. IATI and Country Systems focal points can be very useful resource in training and supporting a wide range of users, but this will be more effective if the focal points are empowered with the necessary skills. Therefore as part of strategy to promote data use, the IATI Strategic Direction should include; a train the trainer workshop for focal points, who will in-turn carry out similar training in-country.

(Harpinder Collacott) #4

Strategic Direction

Key elements of IATI’s strategic direction:
In the first paragraph, I’d like to see an explicit reference to publisher needs, as well as those of users. If we’re serious about broadening the scope of IATI beyond traditional aid providers then we need to recognise that not everyone has the same way of working as a bilateral or multilateral donor. We’ve already done some work to adapt the Standard to reflect the needs of humanitarian publishers and worked with DFIs to interpret IATI for their particular business model; we need to keep taking publisher needs into account as we work with a wider range of actors, e.g. technical / South-South cooperation providers. So adapting and improving the standard for the future is critical to meet our vision too.

In the second paragraph, I’m not convinced it’s possible to prioritise or pick and choose from amongst the five areas – they are all inextricably linked to one another and therefore difficult to separate out. Taking one away, minimising work on it will undermine IATI and the achievement of our vision.

1. Promoting data use

  • It’s important to be clear that there is currently no budget provision for any work on IATI data use. It will be vital for the Members’ Assembly to approve the workplan for 2016-18, as well as increasing resources available, to ensure implementation of this work.

  • I disagree that it’s impossible to support individual users. Yes, it’s impossible to support all users, but I believe it would be hugely valuable to do some proof of concept work with a few different kinds of users and draw out some lessons and principles that can be more broadly applied, either through tools or guidance material, as well as through technical cooperation and capacity building.

  • Tools are only one part of the efforts to promote data use and they require sustainable support and funding – we have seen too many tools developed and then not maintained. Perhaps it’s worth thinking about a single tool that can meet a range of user needs, rather than a proliferation of country portals which meet one country’s needs, do not provide a methodology that can be replicated easily in multiple locations without intensive support and high cost, and so on.

2. Improving IATI data quality, breadth and depth
While I agree that we need to increase the number of publishers beyond donors, we need to balance this with:

  • Ensuring the remaining ODA providers either publish to IATI for the first time or resolve the more critical data quality issues;
  • Recognising that providing technical support to implementing organisations is usually more labour-intensive than supporting donors;

In light of these two points, I absolutely support the need to evaluate the model of technical support for IATI. DI has provided this service up until now and it is clear that it is not an effective use of IATI resources to exponentially expand the current support service to meet the needs of a greater number and wider range of publishers so we welcome the suggestion to look at other options.

3. Maintaining and improving the IATI Standard
An important area and we would be interested to hear other ideas on how we continue to maintain the Standard and ensure its integrity, as well as support improvements.

4. Communication and outreach
I agree that we should see comms and outreach as a cross-cutting area of work that supports the achievement of the other areas of the strategy.

I’d like to see a focus on branding in this section – there is no point in investing in improving our website if we don’t first do the work to establish how we want to describe ourselves and communicate with others, who our target audiences are and what they need to know etc. Branding is a lot more than logos and designs – it ensures we are able to communicate the right messages to the right people in the right way.

(Kimberly Smith) #5

The U.S thinks that the key elements described in the third paragraph of the draft are generally the right ones. We note that the subsequent sessions do not align exactly with these key elements.

We believe that some refinement will be required in the draft after the vision and mission statements are agreed, and wonder how this will be accomplished, given that they are set to be discussed back-to-back at the Members’ Assembly meeting.

We agree with the need to set targets, or some other indicators of success for each element, and believe that the targets will assist in prioritizing the potential action elements in each area.

In regard to Element 2) “Improving IATI data quality, breadth and depth,” we have some concerns about maximizing reporting by implementing organizations, and believe some additional work and thought will need to be focused on issues such as traceability, double counting and data structure .

We suggest under Element 3) “Maintaining and improving the IATI Standard,” that the first potential action read “Clarifying the roles of the TAG and the Secretariat in driving Standard improvement, as well as the frequency of TAG meetings and consultations.”

(Talia Melic) #6

• Overall, Australia appreciates the work of the Governing Board and can broadly support the content of the paper
• We particularly want to highlight that priority should be accorded to “greater use of the data” within paragraph three (under key elements of IATI’s strategic direction)
• For areas 2 and 4, which we broadly support, we wanted to enquire as to whether the Governing Board had taken into consideration whether such actions would have additional budgetary implications?

Area 1 – promoting data use

• As noted, Australia sees greater use of IATI data as a priority area. We believe that greater awareness among potential users is needed in terms of:
o The type of data available
o What it means
o How it can be used in decision making
• As we understand that all members can play a role in raising this awareness, we suggest that an additional point is added to the propositions already put forward in the paper under promoting data use:
o Developing a user engagement strategy to assist donors to focus with their key partners and encourage donor collaboration in its delivery (to avoid duplication of efforts)

Area 3 – maintaining and improving the IATI standard

• Given many providers are closer to meeting the standard than ever before, we think it is important that the current standard is given a little more time before passing to the next stage, which could entail revising the standard (as opposed to minor upgrades which are an ongoing part of maintaining the standard).

Area 4 – communication and outreach

• We support this area of work, and for proposals related to an improved website, guidance materials and tools, we would suggest the creation of interactive self-help tools and online presentations on using IATI data.

(Annelise Parr) #7

Comments on IATI’s strategic direction received from Ann-Kristin Solas and posted on behalf of BMZ

We highly welcome the draft on IATI’s strategic direction for the year 2016-2018. Overall we are supportive of the key elements of the strategic direction identified by the Board. Regarding the key action areas identified we would like to share the following comments:
• First and foremost the focus should lie on improving data quality as poor data undermines the credibility of the entire exercise. Providing good quality data as well as extending the coverage of data should be the primary task for all publishers and therefore the main action area for the IATI community.
• The promotion of data use is an important aspect of the transparency agenda. Similar to our comments on the vision and mission we believe that the IATI community’s effort should primarily concentrate on increasing the amount and quality of data and information published on development cooperation/finance and resources should be allocated in this action area.
• We believe that effective and efficient institutional arrangements as well as long-term financial sustainability are determinates for IATI’s success as a global transparency initiative. Getting the institutional arrangements right is therefore an important action area for IATI.
• Maintaining and improving the IATI Standard is an important action area in order to ensure usefulness of the standard. In regard to further extensions of the standards we would suggest to not focus too much on that action point as full use of the current version of standard has to be improved yet.
• A solid communication and outreach strategy is needed to support the achievement of the other key action areas of the strategy. Hence, any communication and outreach activities should be understood as cross-cutting tasks.
We support the proposal of the Board to develop specific targets for each action area in order to be able to monitoring and strengthen accountability.

At the same time we believe it’s important to make the strategic goals which are derived from the vision and mission more explicit in the final document of the strategic direction. In the current draft the strategic goals such as – among others - improvement in data quality are called strategic directions or key elements, although these are in fact the strategic goals. A distinct wording is essential for IATI’s future strategy.

(Frank Wissing Madsen) #8

The World Bank finds that there is a real risk that IAIT could lose momentum and support if the use of IATI data does not increase considerable over the next few years. We therefore think that IATI over the next 2-3 years IATI should be focused on consolidating IATI’s considerable achievements and increasing the use of published data, rather than innovation or expansion to a broader range of development finance. Our comments to Vision, Mission and Strategic direction reflects this overall concern.

Comments to Draft strategic direction for IATI 2016-2018

  1. Promoting data use
    We agree that expanded use of IATI data is critical.
    Of the action points listed we would give priority to the following
    a. Improving IATI tools to support data use
    IATI should consider to offer a ‘public good’ IATI interface. In our experience, a major obstacle to adaptation of the IATI standard and use of IATI data is the lack of an user friendly and comprehensive interface application. This is a shortcoming that tends to limit IATI to the ‘nerd domain’. The recently released beta version of ‘IATI studio’ is the most sophisticated interface to date but still only give public access to a fraction of the published data.
    b. Develop an evaluative approach to prepare future assessment of the impact of IATI.
    To be able to document if IATI actual has an impact on achieving equitable and sustainable development outcomes will be important for the longer term support to IATI.

  2. Improving IATI data quality
    We agree that the highest value would come from expanding the number of implementing organizations rather than continued focus on funders. We also subscribe to the theory that increased used of data will lead to improvement in the completeness and other quality aspects of the data published

Of the action points listed we would give priority to the following:
a. Conducting data quality assessments to identify priority issues most affecting data users
b. Considering alternative models of technical support
c. Focusing outreach efforts on implementing organizations

  1. Maintaining and improving the IATI standard

Of the action points listed we would give priority to the following:
a. Clarifying the role of the Board, the TAG and the secretariat in driving the Standard improvement
There are practical challenges and cost implications of all changes to the IATI standard for every users of the IATI Standard. While the innovative drive from the technical side is much appreciated, the IATI members, now represented by the Board, should set the priorities for innovations and innovations versus consolidation.
b. Collaborating with OECD/DAC
c. Establishing a timetable for future upgrades to the Standard
Predictability would be conducive

  1. Communication and outreach
    Agree that communication and outreach is an element that should support the achievement of the strategic areas 1-3 through creating a pull factor for publishing and using data.

Of the action points listed we would give priority to the following:

a. Improved IATI website, guidance materials and tools
There is not as such a lack of information but it is not easily accessible.

  1. Institutional arrangements
    No comments at this stage

(Annelise Parr) #9

Detailed comments on IATI Strategic Direction (Received before the deadline and posted by the Secretariat on behalf of CSOs)

  1. Use. Potential actions in this area include:
    • Exploring the needs of various types of data users (e.g. partner country officials, local CSOs, donor offices, etc) and assessing the extent to which existing tools (e.g. D-Portal) meet these needs. At national level specially in Africa local CSOs are potential data users,not actually data users. So I think there will be a need to strengthen and even empower them to become data users
    • The sub regional and regional levels should also be considered.
    • Working with AIMS providers to support use of data by partner country governments (including automatic import of IATI data). Support use of data also for CSOs of partner country governments

They should also be a clear collaboration among CSOs community to make sure CSOs from developing countries are not let aside .

  1. I’m not sure if establishing a budding system of new users with established users from similar sectors is captured under target 4 of the IATI Strategic Board Papers.

  2. I think there should be an emphasis on the quality of data. Current datasets show that even when publishers use the same IATI-elements, the way they use them greatly differs. Which makes it nearly impossible to gain insight based on more than one dataset at a time.
    Promoting the use of data thus won’t have a great effect, unless the quality of the data increases substantially.
    I.m.o. the focus should be on those elements that add structure and depth to IATI publications: showing how organisations and acitivities relate to each other, thus providing unambiguous links to partner orgs, avoiding double counting of budgets, or results (when they are being used).
    I find “Aggregation” a very difficult subject: I don’t think the IATI standard is fit to show financial closure, and looking at aggregation of results: that’s a different ball game (1 school + 1 school is hardly 2 schools, if one is located in the mountains of Nepal and has 20 pupils, and the other one is located in the slums of Nairobi and has 500 pupils). I’d rather aim for “insight”.

The IATI secretariat could & should play an important role in making sure the quality rises. E.g. by simple means as setting up a list of publishers + valid identifiers, actively getting in touch with publishers when certain elements are not up to standard or when files don’t validate, highlight good practices etc. When the quality of the data rises, it will become much easier to develop tools to also use the data for multiple purposes, a.o. for communication about the purpose of IATI, it’s use, etc. I don’t envision a linear approach where the focus is on data quality only, but rather an iterative approach where certain ‘pockets of data’ are improved, used, visualized, communicated, which then leads to the next step.

  1. InterAction Comments
    I’ve shared comments along these lines before, so I will keep my comments here brief:
    #1 and #2: Data quality and data use should be viewed as two sides of the same coin and need to be worked on simultaneously. You won’t get use without quality, and you won’t know what the quality issues are until you start using the data. Some of the activities under improving quality seem to recognize this: e.g., establishing communications mechanisms between partner countries and publishers, conducting detailed data quality assessments to identify issues most affecting data users, etc. Work on expanding the breadth of IATI data should also be driven by user needs.
    #3: Maintaining and improving the IATI standard would probably be last on my list of priorities for IATI in the short term. Until we see more use of IATI data, changes will seem arbitrary. Indeed, while I understand the technical reasons for some of the changes that have been introduced, they have made it more difficult for me at least to use IATI data.
    #4: Communications and outreach are essential for both improving data quality and data use. Our work has confirmed that awareness - let alone understanding - of IATI is extremely low. As mentioned in the paper, to reach new audiences (beyond the transparency/open data community), communications efforts will need to emphasize how IATI data can be used to solve specific problems (e.g., coordination, gaps analysis, fundraising, etc.). To improve data quality and minimize the inconsistencies you see from publisher to publisher, the guidance on the site needs to be dramatically improved.
    #5: I would be curious to hear the findings of the external analysis, but at this point, it seems IATI would be more successful if it were its own organization.

  2. Additional comments from an InterAction colleague:
    My suggestions on the Strategic Direction of IATI fall under 3 categories: Promoting Data Use, Communication and outreach, and Improving IATI data quality.

  3.   I think that the story of IATI needs to be painted for people.  What problems can IATI data help resolve?  We know that these are development problems.  However, the HOW hasn’t been fully explained.
  4.   This is where promoting data use could help solve this issue.  There should be a call for IATI members and data users to explain how IATI data helped resolve the issue.  I know that there are some studies and blogs on this.  What would be helpful is to have a webinar series where each webinar lists a specific development problem.  This would be open to everyone.  Those that are interested in this problem can sign up to see whether the IATI data can help solve their problem.  Perhaps, this is another avenue of measuring data quality as well.
  5.   My third point is more of a question.  Has the IATI Secretariat conducted a needs assessment?  How many organizations (and types) have asked IATI for technical assistance? Are there specific areas where recipients of technical assistance consistently requested help?  One way of responding to these needs might be to require those who received technical assistance to be available for peer to peer learning.  Peer to peer learning is key for sustainable learning efforts.