In 2010, the Swedish government introduced the transparency guarantee of Swedish aid, and in 2011 the first version of the Openaid.se platform was launched.
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 communication officers, statisticians, IT staff, archivists and program managers, and; open dialogue and information sharing with other donors and stakeholders. By creating a team that includes the necessary competencies with weekly coordination and strategy meetings, Sida has established a solid process that moves them forward.
The support of the IATI community has also played an important role in Sida’s progress. For example, DFID assisted Sida with data conversion using DFID’s SQL-to-IATI conversion database, and the IATI support team have been important contributors to improving Sida’s IATI publication. In the same spirit, Sida offers their Openaid platform as a open source WordPress theme, freely available to use and adapt to individual needs.
Sida makes a case for ‘eating your own dogfood’ through the current version of Openaid.se that is entirely based on the data they have published to the IATI Datastore. Increasing quality is partly about meeting the requirements of the IATI standard, but also about communicating internally to staff about the accessibility of the material they produce and the audiences it is available to. This is achieved through continuous and open dialogue with the staff and seminars about what to consider in their daily project management work in terms of privacy, security and awareness about the accessibility of an external public audience.
In terms of usability of the platform, Sida’s main focus is on targeting aid professionals, journalists and researchers and to address their needs, with the aim of increasing use of the data. In 2014 Sida conducted public seminars in Sweden about the role of transparency, open and big data for development and participated in hackathons as data providers. In the latest version of Openaid.se the goal has been to create an interface that is both simple and intuitive yet precise and sophisticated enough to appeal to our multiple audiences. The interface allows you to ask very specific questions, and export the data as CSV, XMS or PDF, alternatively as an embed code to be used online. Sida is increasingly incorporating Openaid.se and IATI data in their communication efforts and working on developing new visualisation options that makes the data easy to understand and analyze. Another recent and perhaps unique aspect of Openaid is that Sida has started to publish corruption investigation reports.
In the run up to the Busan deadline, Sida will work to increase both the quantity and quality of their data, and upgrade to the latest version of the IATI standard (2.01). The focus will particularly be on traceability by increasing available data from Swedish CSOs and missions abroad. Additionally, Sida will work to improve procedures and awareness of data quality among staff involved in the project management process.
Sida has recently published a series of blogs, sharing their experience of implementing aid transparency commitments, detailing the process involved, challenges faced and lessons learnt. Read more here: http://www.openaid.se/blog/implementing-aid-transparency-in-sweden-white-paper-part-1-why-do-we-care-about-aid-transparency-and-iati/