Transaction Type Codelist - Update

(Andie Vaughn) #1

Hi all -

USAID is requesting a bug fix to the transaction type codeslist codes 12 and 13 (outgoing pledge and incoming pledge) to remove the word ‘pledge’ and replace it with a word that is more consistent with organization’s intended humanitarian commitments. We do not seek to add a new code or redefine the existing one, this is simply about changing the name of the code.

Some organizations (including ours) do not participate in pledging events and in many cases there are legal issues with promising funding, inhibiting the use of pledging as it is traditionally conceived. For organizations that have ‘announced’ funding or ‘pending outgoing commitments’, ‘pledge’ is not an appropriate term and cannot be used to publish this pending commitment data - leaving us with no other available code to publish this information.

At this time, it appears only one organization is using these pledge codes.

We propose in codes 12 and 13 (outgoing pledge and incoming pledge) that the word ‘pledge’ should be removed and replaced with a more appropriate word such as ‘pending outgoing commitment,’ ‘announced funding,’ or ‘commitment in process.’ We welcome other words and suggestions to updating this term to be more inclusive to organizations who do not take part in pledging events.

(IATI Technical Team) #2

The current name of ‘pledge’ was agreed upon because it reflects the terminology already used in the humanitarian community. The definition comes from UNOCHA: - “A non-binding announcement of an intended contribution or allocation by the donor. The recipient organization and response plan or project are not necessarily specified.” Nick from FTS explains more about this here: TransactionType codes (included 2.03)

There were no objections when the two transaction types were included during the 2.03 upgrade process. As you can see from the definition it is not specific to UN pledges.


We would like to hear from other organisation if they face the same challenge.

(Ole Jacob Hjøllund) #3

Obviously, there is a challenge - since the purpose of ‘pledging events’ is to mount political pressure to realise actual commitments. And when participants, sometimes, even are called to sign their pledge, it is intended to confuse the concept and make it look like a commitment. But we will only make matters worse if we introduced a third concept. Let’s stick with the existing definition, that a pledge is only an expression of intentions - it isn’t binding, not even when it’s written and signed.

PS: We are currently considering to publish our commitment-budgets as pledges. These budgets reflects ‘intentions’ on which commitments we are likely to issue, once the grant or Finance Act is approved, and would serve a purpose for transparency and ‘forward looking’ qualities of our IATI data. But obviously, such budgets or ‘pending commitments’ are not binding in any respect.

(Michelle Levesque) #4

Dear OJ et al,

I believe the challenge is that the word “pledge” in the American context and possibly other Anglophone countries has a very specific and legal connotation. While it may be understood within this community and even the UN that a “pledge is only an expression of intentions”, that isn’t what the general anglophone/non-UN public understands it to be and I think that is the issue Andi is trying to raise.

A pledge is considered a contract and has both a legal and accounting implication which I believe renders it impossible for USAID and possibly other organizations based in the US at least from using the transaction type to record non-binding intentions.

I wasn’t around when these definitions and names were assigned so I don’t know how the words got “approved” but if the community really does agree that these transaction types are not intended to be legally binding but rather an intention then I can see why this is and will continue to be an issue for USAID and again, possibly other US based publishers.

I’m guessing the reason why this isn’t an issue for the UN is that the accounting standards used by the UN is IPSAS and “pledge” doesn’t have that connotation.

Kind Regards,

(Bill Anderson) #5

I don’t think IATI could or should adjudicate on this matter. We have taken our lead from UN OCHA, which I believe to have been the correct approach. (Just as we take our lead on the definitions of commitments and disbursements from OECD DAC)

Transaction Type Code 12 = " Indicative, non-binding advice of an intended outgoing commitment." This is not just an “understanding within the community” but the definition of the code in the standard. Am I correct that the only disagreement is with the name and not the definition?

Is this not the same as the UK using the Country Code “MM” but insisting (mostly) on calling the country Burma? We all know what the code refers to…

Is the solution to change the name to “Pledge or xxx”? Is this acceptable to UN OCHA?

(Ole Jacob Hjøllund) #6

I agree. I wasn’t aware of the semantic ambiguity of that word, so let us find a label to the code that is understandable to all users. It seems that we agree on the meaning of the code. And we do not need extra codes to distinguish between ‘Intentions’ and process-lingo like ‘pending’ or ‘announced’ - those are feasibly published as one code, clearly separated from the legally binding commitments.

(Amy Silcock) #7

Apologies all, I moved this into the wrong category. You should now be able to respond to this post.