Using related-activity to link data between different publishers


(leo stolk) #14

Hi All,
IN my opinion there is a usecase logic within networked organisations like the Oxfam Confederations to use the related activity element to refer upwards to ‘programmes’ that are owned by the network rather than owned by the network members. this the case I refered to at the BOND workshop with @stevieflow and @amys
In the Oxfam confederations all country and regional strategies, are ‘owned’ by the confederation. These strategies contain the programmes, while they are operationalised through IATI activities published by the network members (the Oxfams).
I hoped to be allowed to publish the country strategy programmes by Oxfam Confederation secretariate as hierachy one activities, and convince all Oxfams to link their project to secretariate programmes, using the related activity element.
For our networked situation this would help to visualise programme coherence in Oxfam activites…

does this make sense?


(Steven Flower) #15

Hi @amys @stolk - many thanks

We seem to be getting into quite nuanced and contextual “rules” around usage of these codes, particularly the co-funded and third party ones. Additionally, it seems that if we wanted to try and validate usage of these codes, we would be unable to do this on the activity alone - we’d need access to many other activities, published by other organisations. @JohnAdams @Herman @rory_scott @rolfkleef does this fit into the ideas around “Link validation” – where we look to validate data, but use the wider IATI corpus to do this?

Thanks. Which related-activity code were you thinking of using?


(leo stolk) #16

Would use code 1 parent when mentioning upwards to the programme…


(Steven Flower) #17

Thanks @stolk

@Herman @amys what do we think about use of related-activity codes within a federated situation, such as described by @stolk? Is this still “internal”?

(and obvious disclaimer, we are just discussing this openly and transparently – we’re not validating anybody!)


(Herman van Loon) #18

@stevieflow @stolk I would not use the related-activity elements to model flows between organisations. Since within a federation of organisations, you have actual fiancial transactions between the organisation members and these members are separate legal entities with their own IATI identifier. I.m.o. you should use transactions to model these actual money transfers and limit the use of the related activity (types parent-childs) within an organisation.

The programme structure of activities within a federation or alliance, can be modeled with transactions. An example is the Both Ends alliance, where the programme level activity is maintained by Both Ends, and the project type interventions are being maintained by the partners funded by Both Ends.

@pelleaardema: do you have any additional thoughts on this?


(leo stolk) #19

Programme activities @Oxfam confederation level would not have financial transactions…


(Amy Silcock) #20

@stevieflow @stolk I wouldn’t use related-activity parent/child/sibling relationships between members of a federated organisation. The related-activities, help mark internal transfers of money within a single organisation/(primary) publisher. For @stolk’s example, as I understand, this is not the case.


(Steven Flower) #21

Just wanted to flag what the standard says on related-activity:

Another separately reported IATI activity that is related to this one.

I think that supports both use-cases. Are we now in the realm of a difference between reference documentation (what is written down for all) and implementation guidance (what is done in context)?


(leo stolk) #22

@amys and @stevieflow If referring to a single set of level one activities across our our confederation is not an option, all affiliates will have to include repetitions of the hierachy one activities in their individual data sets. Such repetion is undesirable isn’t it?


(Herman van Loon) #23

Ok, so programmes @Oxfam are used to group related activities, but not for financial planning?


(leo stolk) #24

indeed, at this stage, that’s where we are. …

Regions or country level strategic intentions (5 yr) are expressed in sets of three - five programmes (focus choices) each. with tiles, descriptions, etc.
Financial and result intentions are set per country/region per ‘programme’ in annual operating plan,

However actual transactions, income and expenditures are recorded at project level across affiliates that contribute to these programmes.

So programmes ‘belong’ to the collective aka the confederation, the projects belong to and are administrated in, the various confederations affiliates.


(Steven Flower) #25

HI everyone

I do like that this thread over three years old, 24 posts long, and still not at consensus!

I think we can learn lessons from this around the potential complexity of rulesets and validation of - and this might be a simple case!

The reason for my posting here, is that @Herman @stolk @David_Megginson @Wendy @ximboden @pelleaardema and I discussed related-activity during a focus on FTS & IATI last week.

We got to this very same question: should related-activity be used to point / link between activities published by different reporting-orgs?

Having reread this thread, I think our position is:

  • most cases suggest that related-activity should be reserved for pointing within a publisher dataset
  • however, there’s a case to suggest otherwise:
    – when a publisher is a part of a federation / network of organisations, and needs to relate to an activity (published by another reporting-org) that provides more context
    – similarly, when a donor is publishing alongside another donor, and needs to signal that their funding is connected

And that, brings the codes for “co-funded” and “third-party” into question.

However, as @herman confirmed, use of related-activity outside of the scope would mean a fail of Netherlands MFA validation rules, although not render the data useless

So… I’m still not sure we have a Best Practice on use of this element. As more publishers create and connect data, it strikes me we need something…


(Yohanna Loucheur) #26

Isn’t this (best) expressed in the data as funding going to the same activity? In other words, by the recipient indicating both donors’ incoming funds to this activity and/or both donors indicating which recipient’s activity their funding goes to?


(Matt Geddes) #27

I had always interpreted related activity as being for situations where activities were related e.g. in terms of objectives, joint planning etc, but where there were no financial flows that would already have allowed that link to be made, whether it was between different donors, within a donors portfolio etc.

Perhaps more importantly, do we know many publishers who have a publishing process where they lookup the activity codes of either related activities or activities/org codes from other publishers that they are funding? If not, all this is a bit optimistic no?


(Michelle Levesque) #28

IOM had a few conversations with a few of our donors while at TAG and off-line. Knowing the donor reference is often known at the time the donor agreements are signed. We don’t currently have a place to store that info such that it can easily be pulled into our IATI data set but we are working on it.

Expecting us to look it up after the fact is ambitious. Particularly when some of our donors don’t publish their donations to us until after we’ve published the projects they have funded. We be playing catch up most of the time.

The challenge we face (may not be an issue for others) is that we don’t know what our project ID will be at the time of signing the agreements. That would require a follow up to communicate that information back to the donor if they want to reference our IDs. That too is ambitious I believe but would be a possible solution for linking two donors to the same project.

It is imperfect but our plan was to use the participating-org/@activity-id or provider-org/@provider-activity-id elements/attributes/?? when we do. Our (perhaps incorrect) understanding of related-activity wasn’t for this purpose. If you “experts” tell me otherwise, we still have time to course correct as we don’t yet publish this info.


(Yohanna Loucheur) #29

That’s a challenge we identified as well when trying to figure out how to get activity IDs. My very simple suggestion: put your activity ID (and org ID for that matter) on all your communications to the donor, especially reports. Very little cost, no risk, and tremendously useful if the donor ever wants the info.


(Michelle Levesque) #30

We do and always have but that doesn’t mean the donor does anything with it that makes its way into IATI.


(Herman van Loon) #31

Maybe I am missing something in the workflow here, but isn’t it always the case that at the moment of signing the contract/agreement, the donor knows their own funding activity-id? In that case the recipient can always point back to the donor’s activity-id (which is mentioned in the contract). So the key point here is to point upward in the funding chain and not downward, since that would require the donor to refer to not (yet) existing activities.


(Michelle Levesque) #32

Herman - you aren’t missing anything. What you suggest is completely possible assuming the recipient system has a place to store that data. My point was only that it would only work in one direction and thus might not help all users depending upon what direction they are coming from along the chain. I would have thought that ideally both donor and recipient would cross-reference one another so the traceability could work in either direction.


(Wendy Rogers) #33

As you point out @Michelle_IOM it is already possible for donor and recipients to cross reference each other and the IATI Standard does already make provision for that to happen. However, as @Herman has mentioned (and it was also my understanding) I think that the original intention for traceability within IATI was just to trace upwards within the funding chain? As @Herman and @YohannaLoucheur have pointed out a donor or funder can generally provide their own originating IATI activity identifier to the recipient via contract documentation and/ or as part of the contract management business process etc .

Interestingly, some of our most recent work within the Grand Bargain (particularly around issues relating to Localisation) is highlighting that there would indeed be value in being to be able to trace both ‘up’ and ‘down’ the funding chain. Presumably for this it happen, Donors and other funders would need to regularly ‘harvest’ the recipient activity identifiers and add them into their own systems. I think this process could certainly be automated and it would also provide donors with an automatic confirmation or validation that recipients have also now published the receipt of that funding to IATI? As a result I would be very interested to hear any views from donors or others on the practicalities and appetite (or lack of?) for making this happen?

NB as this question is moving away from the original post topic I am happy to move this post to a new topic if required