Case study: The European Commission’s Inter-service Working Group

As an original signatory to IATI and commitments made at Busan, the European Commission has played an active role in the development of the standard as well as meeting its own transparency commitments. As the directorate accounting for 75% of the EC’s ODA DG DEVCO plays an important role within the EU through its advocacy role and by providing advice to Member States on fulfilling their commitments to the Busan common standard.

The Commission rolled out publication of IATI standard data across its main aid-spending departments, starting with DG DEVCO’s initial publication in October 2011, followed by DG Enlargement (currently DG NEAR, the newly established directorate-general for neighbourhood and enlargement negotiations), ECHO and FPI’s publication in July 2013. ECHO was already publishing open data in a different format in its information system and has thus followed a slightly different path to publish to IATI, using the facilities of the EU AID Explorer tool.

An inter-service working group was established in 2013, with each department working towards developing an implementation schedule tailored to its own specificities.  2013 was an instrumental year that saw all four department making improvements in both the breadth of data published and the degree of automation of their publications. It also marked the move to monthly publishing. The inter-service group also assisted the European Investment Bank (EIB) towards its first IATI standard data publication in 2014.

The group engages at both the technical and policy levels. Some of the technical issues that the group has been tackling in recent times include:

  • Publishing outstanding items
  • Improving the format of data publication towards the ‘gold standard’ of IATI XML
  • Ensuring improved, uninterrupted and timely publication of IATI data with the design and build of proposed new internal IT platforms
  • Enhancing internal use of data publication

At the policy-level, the group is developing an internal awareness raising strategy for transparency, organising training sessions, carrying out internal consultations to ensure a coherent approach in engaging with the IATI community and exploring the implications of opening up new pieces of information.

Working together has facilitated peer to peer learning, allowed for better utilisation of capacity and for bringing all the DGs to a similar level in terms of their publication, while encouraging improvements based on each other’s publication strengths. It has also been useful for garnering management support and buy-in on issues related to IATI publication.