I believe that there are several. As far as I know, we are the minority - reporting commitments in the bookkeeping sense of ‘binding aggreement with external party’. Most DAC-donors are actually reporting grants (i.e. pledges) as ‘commitment’ in DAC-statistics, so I would assume this to be the case in IATI-publications as well.
I would agree there may not be great record keeping of pledges, in trying to track pledges in the past getting a consistent answer was pretty impossible. That challenge though is part of why it would be helpful to have it reported here. The pledges are public statements that donors get credit for, and therefore should be held accountable to, but to be able to do that there needs to be a mechanism to track from pledge to disbursement. A challenge may be that in reality commitments may be all that get reported anyways, but its a step in the right direction to addressing the situation.
The use case seems pretty weak for this one. Creating the new type will require changes to systems etc, but won’t magically bring data out if this data is not being captured (which is what I gather from above).
Given the number of changes brought forward in 2.03, I would suggest to park this one for the time being. It’s a weak “nice to have”, definitely not a required fix.
From an outsider observer’s perspective of the humanitarian ‘system’ it is really interesting to learn that in many cases there is a general disconnect between the political or other processes that can make a public pledge and the operational systems that manage the associated pledged resources. I’ve also always felt that it is one of the strengths of IATI that it often highlights where any such information gaps occur.
More specifically, I do agree with @ariag that there is requirement to hold donors accountable to the public statements that are made. In addition, the advance knowledge of promised resources can, perhaps even more importantly, be useful for response planning purposes.
Therefore, whilst the required information may not be currently available within donor IT systems I assume that the situation would be unlikely to change unless there is a call for the information is made. Therefore I would still like to see this remain as part of the upgrade proposal for v2.03 in order that the mechanism for reporting pledge related information is ready & available as and whenever donors are in a position to provide it?
Again, there are many, many changes proposed in 2.03. We should focus on those that are most important and respond to a demonstrated use case.
If and when there are commitments to publish this data, the corresponding change can be made to the standard.
This topic has been included for consideration in the formal 2.03 proposal
Transaction Type Codelist - Update
Sorry for coming in on this one a bit late, but again there are particular use cases for the humanitarian community regarding pledges.
First is the longstanding ability of FTS to track documented pledges. By that, we mean pledges that have not yet been formally committed to in a binding agreement, but nonetheless have been clearly identified as available, ready to be allocated for a specific purpose, and reported in writing. FTS has been tracking these types of pledges as a distinct category (separate from commitments) for a long time: this example comes from the Burundi 2005 appeal, and many more can be found on the FTS archive site. This feature was added to FTS because it was required to meet stakeholder expectations, and continues to be a much-used type of data which FTS provides. If anything, we are under considerable pressure to do more to document pledges, which (far more so for the humanitarian community, where funding is much more ephemeral and opportunistic, than for the development community) is vital for resource mobilization. These types of pledges are absolutely trackable (in that they are documented and subsequently traceable when they are converted to commitments) and should absolutely be included in IATI.
The second is an increasing need to formalise the tracking of all forms of pledges (even verbal ones), particularly in the wake of ‘pledging conferences’ - large global events organised to raise attention and funding for urgent crises. Recent ones have been held for Syria, Yemen, Iraq and the famine countries. While FTS does not track these systematically, efforts continue to be made by both OCHA and other organisations to do so. Here, there is less inherent trackability - many of the pledges announced at such conferences are duplicative, difficult to disaggregate or subsequently to trace their related commitments. IATI cannot play a huge role in making them more trackable per se, but as the pressure continues to build from such conferences to have a robust, traceable follow-up reported on in the subsequent months, the potential role of IATI could be highly visible and mutually beneficial.
I appreciate the concerns that for larger organisations, the automated internal systems they use to generate IATI reports would have to change to track pledges too. However, I believe that it is IATI’s role to anticipate and encourage, rather than wait for and follow, best practice: the fact is that delivering any form of pledge (whether in writing or at a pledging conference) is irresponsible if the organisation doing so is not willing to back it up with transparency and accountability on what they are pledging, and what happens to this pledge in the future.
For FTS, there is a simpler equation. We are required, by our stakeholders (the humanitarian community) to provide information on pledges. Therefore we are required to ask all data providers to report this information to us. If we cannot offer to our providers the ability to report everything they need to report in the IATI format, and are obliged to ask them to report pledges in a separate, additional format, then the added value both to FTS and to our providers of adopting IATI diminishes greatly, and we would have to refocus our attention on comprehensive (sadly non-IATI) reporting formats that meets our stakeholders’ requirements.
Due to this and to the fact that this appears to be a straightforward extension of the standard without any implications for backward compatibility, OCHA strongly backs its inclusion in v2.03.
When typhoon Haiyan hit everyone asked where the data was and when would IATI be ready to deliver. When the Kathmandu earthquake struck we were again cornered into the same embarrassing silence. IATI still has little to offer in timely and relevant data to assist Syrian refugees or those affected by famine in East Africa.
I would like to support @ximboden’s plea (and threat). The Grand Bargain needs IATI and IATI needs the Grand Bargain. Making the standard fit for purpose for humanitarian reporting does not involve any seismic changes and we should all get behind this effort.
Notes from consultation calls w/c 3rd July
There is something I don’t quite understand about this proposal. It was brought to light in discussions in London, while we tried to understand use cases.
People want to track pledges made by donors ie promises made at pledging conferences etc. Let’s say we agree with the principle; how could this be treated as a transaction?
In the standard, a transaction is related to a specific activity and a specific recipient. Pledges tend to be far more general - a promise to provide $5M to help address a crisis in country X or Y, to assist Syrian refugees or the Nepal earthquake. This cannot be treated as a transaction; we wouldn’t have an activity ID for it, it’s way too early in the process.
If anything, pledges are much closer in nature to the country or institution forward spending figures published in the Org file. If we must add something, perhaps we should look at that standard instead. It won’t be in 2.03 though.
Creating a new type of transaction for pledges will likely simply add to the list of “rarely used data elements” published by Andy…
I agree with @YohannaLoucheur. I do not understand why this is included in 2.03 in this form. There does not seem to be consensus at all and as Yohanna points out, this subject needs some more thought to work in practice.
@YohannaLoucheur my understanding of the use case was specific to a ‘pre-commitment’ in a fast-onset emergency: An earthquake occurs; a donor makes a public, verbal commitment; preparation of the legal paperwork (commitment) begins - a process that can take a number of days; the pledge places an indicative marker on the emergency coordination planners chart.
The new OCHA FTS database defines three contribution statuses: Pledge, Commitment and Paid.
I can see the additional use case (for future discussion) of IATI being the most appropriate vehicle for tracking pledges in general.
Yes, this is part of being able to answer the call for transparency in rapid-onset emergencies and in order to have full compatibility with FTS. Just to be sure though - commitment already exists and we are not adding “Paid” as a new value (Disbursement and Expenditure already exist and combine to offer this transaction type).
If I understand the comment of @YohannaLoucheur correctly, she objects against adding the pledge as an transaction type in on the activity level, since that does not reflect the real world process: at the moment of the pledge there is very often no activity yet. The pledge is more a statement of intention on the organization level.
A solution for this proposal can therefore be to put the pledge element at the organization level, maybe as an alternative kind of earmarked budget for a specific humanitarian crisis.
I.m.o. that would be more in line with the actual business process, than adding it to the activity level.
In my reply above I highlighted the FTS use case which is activity based. Given OCHA’s commitment to IATI - in stating that IATI is the preferred method of reporting to FTS - do you not agree that it is important for IATI to be FTS compliant?
In my reply above I recognised a separate, broader use case - the one to which you refer - which I suggested should be discussed at a future date.
I want to chime in because I don’t think many others will have the context
and we at UNFPA do quite a bit of work with OCHA. Not sure that if this
were to be excluded, that there would be any other way to communicate a
pledge in IATI. The inclusion of the transaction type “pledge” does not
mean the use will be required.
I recall a scenario where Nepal had to manually enter hundreds of pledges
from FTS and other sources to get a sense of the response after the
earthquake a few years ago. I personally feel that an optional type is of
good use and will provide a great deal of value in emergency settings.
I am for the inclusion of the “pledge” as a transaction type but also open
to hear where else it can go.
I would be content to include a “pledge” transaction type if that would make the standard more open to supporting FTS.
While the comments indicate that some donors don’t operate with activity-level pledges, there are some instances where this is appropriate (the commitments the UK has just made to support the landslide victims in Sierra Leone is such an example https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-emergency-uk-aid-for-sierra-leone-landslide-victims). It would make real sense for us to be able to support those pledges in an activity.
I therefore support this proposal.
I am ok with adding the pledge as a separate transaction type in 2.03, but it only seems like a partial solution.
I think it wouldn’t hurt to include pledge as a transaction type in 2.03. Since there is a need for the information on pledges (FTS, at least) it would make sense to accommodate and allow publishers to publish pledges, if the information is available.