White paper, part 4: Keys to success and the road ahead

Implementing aid transparency in Sweden, part 4


The progress made by Sida so far is due to a number of factors, including: support from political and management levels; broad organisational involvement from  officers, statisticians, IT staff, archivists and program managers, and; open dialogue and information sharing with other donors and stakeholders.

  1. Get everyone on board. Gaining support from managerial and political levels gives the necessary mandate to take appropriate steps towards publishing. In our case, the Swedish government introduced the transparency guarantee for all of our international development assistance in 2010, which makes the Openaid initiative a priority. Additionally, in order to realize a project like this, a wide range of competencies are required including statisticians, archivists, IT technicians, communications and program managers (after all, it is data that they have produced that is published). By creating a team that includes the necessary competencies with weekly coordination and strategy meetings, we feel that we have established a solid process that moves us forward. When we launched the Openaid platform we started with an unofficial in-house soft launch and demonstration of the platform to get feedback and potential concerns from the staff.
  2. Sharing is caring. Take the opportunity to learn from others and from yourself. In our case, we had the opportunity to learn from DFID as they had already started publishing. Sharing both progress and failures serve as important learning opportunities for others and helps us reach our common goal of a transparent aid community. One of our contributions is the open source Openaid WordPress theme that is freely available and is easy to adapt to your preferences, saving both time and resources. Making use of the IATI support team and joining the discussions within the IATI Technical Advisory Group (TAG) are great ways of engaging with the global transparency community.
  3. Yes, publish poor quality data! It can be uncomfortable to publish poor quality data at an early stage, but doing so will drive your work with transparency and data quality forward. Your platform or data might not be perfect, but an early launch will allow you to figure out the appropriate next steps and avoid getting on the wrong path. The Openaid platform has gone through a number of upgrades and improvements entirely based on feedback from our users.
  4. Eat your own dogfood! Our platform Openaid.se is based on the data we have published to the IATI datastore. As a result, we are using the same data as everyone else, pushing us to maintain high quality. Additionally, the organisations in the top of the Aid Transparency Index all have in common that they use their own data.

We have come a long way since Sida first initiated the project Openaid and started publishing using the IATI standard. However,  a lot remains to be done and we look forward to working with all of our partners to improve not only our own work, but also lift others so that the international development community benefits. In the coming six months we will continue to increase both quantity and quality of our data, and upgrading to the latest version of the IATI standard (2.01) to better fulfill their Busan commitments. The focus will particularly be on traceability by increasing available data from Swedish CSOs and missions abroad. Additionally, we will work to improve procedures and awareness of data quality in the project contribution management process amongst the staff.

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