It’s great to see the enhanced validation services being commissioned by IATI. Back in 2009, my then-colleague David Carpenter built the very first (and the one we all still use!) validator quite quickly, mainly so that I could share test results with the emerging publishers (there was quite a rush around Busan!). Over the subsequent years, as our community needs for better and more robust data has grown, the discussions around validation have been both rewarding and reinforcing - the new validation service should both cement and further our learning.
Indeed, as we established and grew Open Data Services Co-operative, the learning around data validation via IATI has been applied in other standards we’ve helped develop: Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS); 360Giving and Beneficial Ownership. To this end, we then invested in our CoVE platform to enable an IATI version. With this, we can now test IATI data against schema, ruleset and embedded codelists. This has proven valuable as we’ve consulted for a number of organisations to publish and/or enhance their IATI data.
Therefore, at face value, the opportunity to tender for a centralised IATI validation service was of tremendous excitement. At the same time, my appointment as IATI TAG Chair also gave us a certain degree of hesitation - particularly from a conflict of interest point of view. Whilst it could be possible to recuse myself and compartmentalise responsibility, it’s also difficult to imagine the Chair of the TAG community holding any work to account, whilst also having an interest in the vendor delivering it. It is for this reason that my colleagues and I at Open Data Services Co-operative decided to not bid for this work, either alone or with partners.
We welcome the eventual provider, and wish to provide all our support (and our open code, of course) to ensure the resultant service is of high quality and reliability. To this end, colleagues such as @rory_scott and @robredpath will share here further insights and learnings around data validation, which we hope will be of interest to the community and service provider.
For myself as TAG Chair, I am grateful that I can also focus on these issues, safe that this conflict of interest is not a factor. There’s a tinge of sadness in the we cannot be involved in the delivery - as we genuinely love IATI validation. However, we also think our step back from this opportunity will be a benefit to our collaborative aims: that high-quality data on development and humanitarian activities will be useful, usable and in widespread use.