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France

Improve Transparency in International Development Aid (FR0005)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: France, First Action Plan, 2015-17

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development; Ministry of Finance and Public Accounts; Ministry of the Economy, Industry and the Digital sector; French Development Agency (AFD)

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Aid, Civic Space, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: France End-of-Term Report 2015-2017, France Mid-Term Progress Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

STAKES Transparency in public development aid contributes to better management of public funds and efficiency of projects. Publication of data, feedback from the field and stakeholder control help to strengthen beneficiaries ownership and to fight corruption. The instructive approach of the web site http://www.transparence-aide.gouv.fr enables citizens to seek information on the destination and use of funds dedicated to development aid. Transparency in public development aid illustrates a process of dialogue and accountability between administrations, public operators, NGOs and citizens. Opening data can facilitate this process, and thus improve targeting of this policy.

CONTEXT & AIM Since 2014, the policy on the transparency of public development aid has been given a new impetus. The July 7th 2014 Bill on orientation and programming related to international development and solidarity policy sets an objective of data transparency concerning the 16 priority developing countries11. Data on projects funded over 100,000€ and implemented in the 16 priority developing countries has gradually been published on http://www.data.gouv.fr in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) format. This was the result of a joint effort by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the French Development Agency, in connection with the Ministry of Finance and Public Accounts. Data on food aid, humanitarian aid, external action of local and regional authorities, co-development and priority solidarity fund projects is also published on http://www.data.gouv.fr. For the first time and simultaneously, France has also made this data accessible on http://www.transparence-aide.gouv.fr. Beyond displaying data on public development aid, this web site allows anyone to request information on funded projects. Initially focused on Mali, this web site is gradually being extended to the 16 priority developing countries covered by the French cooperation and development policy.

ROADMAP The French Development Agency will gradually open data on funding granted to sectors under their responsibility in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mediterranean countries, Asia and Latin America. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development will then add data on projects funded in these zones to expand the site http://www.transparence-aide.gouv.fr. All this data will be published regularly in the IATI format and hosted or referenced on http://www.data.gouv.fr. The transparency threshold of €100,000 will be removed by these two stakeholders for projects run by NGOs. Transparency will be applicable whatever the amount from 2016. The Finance and Economy Ministry will continue to reference, on the site http://www.data.gouv.fr, the definitive declaration of data from France to the OECD, within the shortest deadlines compatible with maintaining the verification and control function for OECD statistical data.

Continue the provision of data on public development aid by extending the scope of zones and the types of projects covered
• 2015:
o Opening, in June, of the French Development Agency (AFD) data on funding granted within their sector of responsibility in the sub-Saharan African and Mediterranean countries.
o Gradual opening in the second half-year by the MAEDI (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development) data for the African zone (countries to be determined)
o Publication of data relating to priority solidarity fund projects, humanitarian aid, food aid, co-development projects and actions of the DAECT (Delegation for External Action of Local and Regional Authorities) on the portal "data.gouv.fr"
• 2016:
o Gradual opening of the MAEDI data on Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean (countries to be determined)
o Opening at the end of June, by the AFD data on Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean (sovereign sector for the AFD)
o Publication of the AFD and MAEDI open data, in the IATI format, on projects run by NGOs (whatever their amount) in the countries already subject to the publication of this data
• 2017:
o Reduction, by the AFD and the MAEDI, of the publication threshold from €100,000 to €50,000 for all projects in the countries already concerned (except NGO projects, published whatever their amount)

IRM End of Term Status Summary

3. Improve transparency in international development aid

Commitment Text:

ROADMAP

The French Development Agency will gradually open data on funding granted to sectors under their responsibility in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mediterranean countries, Asia and Latin America. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development will then add data on projects funded in these zones to expand the site http://www.transparence-aide.gouv.fr. All this data will be published regularly in the IATI format and hosted or referenced on http://www.data.gouv.fr. The transparency threshold of €100,000 will be removed by these two stakeholders for projects run by NGOs. Transparency will be applicable whatever the amount from 2016. The Finance and Economy Ministry will continue to reference, on the site http://www.data.gouv.fr, the definitive declaration of data from France to the OECD, within the shortest deadlines compatible with maintaining the verification and control function for OECD statistical data.

· Continue the provision of data on public development aid by extending the scope of zones and the types of projects covered

2015:

· Opening, in June, of the French Development Agency (AFD) data on funding granted within their sector of responsibility in the sub-Saharan African and Mediterranean countries.

· Gradual opening in the second half-year by the MEAE (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development) data for the African zone (countries to be determined)

· Publication of data relating to priority solidarity fund projects, humanitarian aid, food aid, co-development projects and actions of the DAECT (Delegation for External Action of Local and Regional Authorities) on the portal 'data.gouv.fr'

2016:

· Gradual opening of the MEAE data on Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean (countries to be determined)

· Opening at the end of June, by the AFD data on Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean (sovereign sector for the AFD)

· Publication of the AFD and MEAE open data, in the IATI format, on projects run by NGOs (whatever their amount) in the countries already subject to the publication of this data

2017:

· Reduction, by the AFD and the MEAE, of the publication threshold from €100,000 to €50,000 for all projects in the countries already concerned (except NGO projects, published whatever their amount)

All of these releases should be in open data, published regularly, in the IATI format and for projects of €100,000 or more.

Editorial Note:This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text please see France's national action plan: https://bit.ly/2MTYhsR.

Responsible Institutions: Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE); Ministry of Finance and Public Accounts; Ministry of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector (MINEFI); and French Development Agency (AFD).

Supporting Institutions(s): N/A

Start Date: 16 July 2015  

End Date: 15 July 2017

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to improve transparency in development aid through the publication of data on projects funded by France's main development agencies: AFD, MEAE and MINEFI. France is regularly considered to be less transparent than other OECD countries regarding aid transparency, as illustrated by Publish What You Fund's (PWYF) 2016 Aid Transparency Index assessing AFD as ‘fair,' MEAE as ‘poor,' and MINEFI as ‘very poor.'[Note34: Publish What You Fund, 2016 Aid Transparency Index (Publish What You Fund, accessed 21 Sept. 2017), http://ati.publishwhatyoufund.org/comparison-chart-2016/.%5D

MEADI launched a pilot transparency platform in 2014, on which this commitment is built. The midterm IRM assessment considered the potential impact of this commitment to be minor as it does not provide for the release of new information but rather for the harmonisation of existing data on various websites and its transference to data.gouv.fr.

Status

Midterm: Limited

Completion of this commitment was limited by the midterm. Progress had been made by MEAE and AFD to publish data on development projects but their efforts fell short of the objectives set out in the action plan (a detailed assessment can be found in the midterm assessment). Mae Kurkjian from ONE notes that progress was made regarding the release of datasets but that there were delays from all actors. In addition, Kurkijan considers that the multiplicity of platforms makes it difficult for civil society to monitor development projects. The midterm assessment does not mention MINEFI's actions. For more information, please see the IRM midterm report.[Note35: Independent Reporting Mechanism, France Rapport D'ètape (OGP, 2017), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/France_Progress-Report_2015-2017.pdf.%5D

End of Term: Substantial

The government self-assessment codes this commitment as partial completion. It noted that MEADI has released information regarding priority assistance to 16 sub-Saharan countries on its websites transparence-aide.gouv.fr and that it has opened data on its Priority Solidarity Funds (FSP), co-development projects, humanitarian assistance, food aid and DAECT actions for 2014. The self-assessment also notes that AFD has published data on its assistance to sovereign funds in the sub-Saharan and Mediterranean regions. Since 2016, AFD has published information on its activities in the sovereign sector in the Asia-Pacific, Latin-America and Caribbean regions. Lastly, the self-assessment indicates that the Ministry of Finance and Public Accounts (MFCP) participated in negotiating changes to the OECD's Creditor Reporting System that will now include data on contributions to the private sector in destination countries as well as private funds mobilised by public financing.

One important development since the first year of implementation is the centralisation of information on a single platform managed by AFD following a decision of the Inter-ministerial Committee on International Cooperation and Development (CICID) on 30 November 2016.[Note36: Comité interministériel de la coopération internationale et du développement, Relevé de décisions, (30 Nov. 2016), http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/161128-releve-de-decisions-cicid-version-longue-propre_cle85fc9d.pdf.%5D AFD and MEAE have merged their transparency platforms into the OpenDataSoft platform.[Note37: Available here: https://afd.opendatasoft.com/page/accueil/.%5D This transparency platform provides data in multiple reusable and open source formats (.xls, .csv, and .rdf), as well as project mapping and an API. The platform features seven datasets published during the action plan implementation period.[Note38: Proparco data from 2014 on aid to private sector (data published upon approval by client); development assistance from the MEAE (the first project dating back from 2006); consolidated data on results from AFD (2012-2016); AFD Distribution of the financing authorisations per instrument (2008-2015); AFD financing authorisations (2012-2015); data on AFD development projects (the first project dating back from 2000); and AFD project evaluations from 2014 onward.] MEAE data covers 36 countries (four Asian-Pacific; 25 sub-Saharan; two Mediterranean; and five Latin-American/Caribbean). AFD data covers 64 countries and can be accessed through a thematic search.

On data.gouv.fr, AFD has published 70 datasets in .xml format on their assistance to the public sector in various countries. The data was last updated in July 2017. MEAE published 86 datasets on bilateral aid on data.gouv.fr in .xml and .csv format.

PWYF's 2016 Aid Transparency Index finds that France does not fulfil its aid transparency commitments. PWYF is particularly worried about the growing gap between AFD, which had made significant improvements, and MEAE and MFCP, which lag behind.[Note39: Publish What You Fund, 2016 Aid Transparency Index.] PWYF praises the efforts made by AFD to improve transparency and recommends: it increase the frequency of its IATI publication to at least quarterly, if not monthly; publish a complete organisation file, including forward-looking budgets for three years ahead; and improve the quality of its IATI publication so that it is comprehensive and consistent for evaluations and tenders, results and impact appraisals. In particular, it should publish disaggregated budgetary data.

PWYF noted that after an improvement in 2014, MEAE's rating fell in 2016. “It still remains unclear whether transparency and open data has been made a priority within the [MEAE] – with appropriate financial and staff resources – so we will take a closer look at their performance in the next few months,” said PWYF.[Note40: Staff member, Publish What You Fund, personal communication with IRM researcher, 8 Nov. 2017.] It recommends that MEAE: re-prioritise its IATI publication and focus on publishing more comprehensively according to the internationally agreed common standard, before extending coverage to other priority countries and increase the frequency of its publication; publish a complete organisation file to the IATI Registry, including forward-looking budgets for at least three years ahead; adapt its information systems and processes to support automated and timely publication of high quality data in the IATI Standard; and improve cooperation with the AFD, MINEFI and the IATI Secretariat to improve publication.

Lastly, PWYF assess the performance of MINEFI as very poor and gives it the same recommendations as those addressed to MEAE.[Note41: Publish What You Fund, “France” (Publish What You Fund, 2016), http://www.publishwhatyoufund.org/donors/france/.%5D

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Major

The French government has made significant efforts to improve transparency and facilitate access to information regarding international development aid, largely through the centralisation of data. Prior to this commitment, limited information was disclosed and the data was scattered across multiple platforms. As such, the implementation of this commitment constitutes a major development in terms of access to information. AFD became a member of the International Aid Transparency Initiative in December 2016 during the OGP Summit in Paris, reinforcing France's commitment to making development aid more transparent. This decision was welcomed with enthusiasm by Publish What You Fund (PWYF).[Note42: Staff member, Publish What You Fund, personal communication with IRM researcher, 8 Nov. 2017.]

The IRM researcher considers the new platform to be easy to navigate, with maps and search filters. To help citizens with different knowledge levels about development aid, the platform could provide explanatory and pedagogical information. Grouping data by country could be particularly useful so that the public could get a more complete picture of French aid per country, as pointed out by a member of the Penplusbytes organisation in Ghana.[Note43: Publish What You Fund, La France ne respecte pas ses engagements en matière de transparence de l'aide, (Publish What You Fund, 2016), http://ati.publishwhatyoufund.org/la-france-ne-respecte-pas-ses-engagements-en-matiere-de-transparence-de-laide/ (accessed 22 Sept. 2017).]

Through this platform, both MEAE and AFD published new information in open and reusable formats. PWYF notes that the fact that “the platform [is] now combining MEAE and AFD data is definitely an improvement and a welcome one as it makes it easier to have a comprehensive overview of France's activities in the developing world. It also shows the differences in terms of quality of the data provided by both institutions.”[Note44: Staff member, Publish What You Fund, personal communication with IRM researcher, 8 Nov. 2017.] Based on desk research, the IRM researcher considers the information to be regularly updated. The granularity of the data could be improved, for example, distinguishing between subsidised loans and non-concessional loans. PWYF also states that greater data detail would facilitate monitoring by third parties and improvement is needed to ensure that all places in which these institutions operate are mentioned.[Note45: Id.]

The CSO Coordination SUD notes that AFD does not publish all relevant information, such as its provisional budgets. Coordination SUD regrets that not all data is published in a systematic fashion nor in an acceptable format, noting that calls for tender are not included on the platform. In addition, it notes that multilateral contributions, notably those managed by MFCP, are not published on the platform. Lastly, Coordination SUD points to the need to systematically publish the disbursements made through the Solidarity Funds for Development (FSD) so that civil society can monitor allocations of innovation funds (fonds innovants). The organisation recommends that the government ensures that data provided by MEAE, AFD and MFCP is published on the IATI register; completes the centralisation of data on the platform and includes multilateral aid; and publishes details on disbursements.[Note46: Coordination SUD, Consultation.gouv, Plan d'action gouvernement ouvert 2017-2019 : Idéation Consultation en ligne (2017), https://democracyos.consultation.etalab.gouv.fr/pgo-ideation/topic/58b7ef19de66ce9b9dc93e2c (accessed on Septmebr 22 2017).]

PWYF adds that “while portals are important tools, we found that more needs to be done by donors to engage directly with people in partner countries to identify their needs, respond to their questions and implement change accordingly so that development outcomes are improved and stakeholders hold [sic] accountable.”[Note47: Staff member, Publish What You Fund, personal communication with IRM researcher, 8 Nov. 2017.]

Carried Forward?

This commitment was carried over to the new action plan. The new commitment addresses extending the scope of data to be opened to new geographical zones and new actors (such as Proparco, the private sector financing arm of the AFD); including all relevant data in one single platform; and publishing impact data on AFD projects.


France's Commitments

  1. Transparency of Public Services

    FR0030, 2018, E-Government

  2. Transparency of Public Procurement

    FR0031, 2018, E-Government

  3. Transparency of Development Aid

    FR0032, 2018, Aid

  4. Expand Open Data

    FR0033, 2018, E-Government

  5. Improved Data Policies and Administration

    FR0034, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Transparency of Public Algorithms

    FR0035, 2018, E-Government

  7. Open Data at Sub-National Level

    FR0036, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. State AI Lab

    FR0037, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Administrative Capacity-Building

    FR0038, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Public Service Incubators

    FR0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Streamline Data Flows

    FR0040, 2018, E-Government

  12. Open Etat Forum

    FR0041, 2018, E-Government

  13. Online Procedures Dashboard

    FR0042, 2018, E-Government

  14. Govtech Summit

    FR0043, 2018, Capacity Building

  15. Imrove Public Consultation Mechanisms

    FR0044, 2018, E-Government

  16. International Transparency and Citizen Participation

    FR0045, 2018, Aid

  17. Public Pariticipation in Sustainable Development

    FR0046, 2018, Capacity Building

  18. Open Science

    FR0047, 2018, E-Government

  19. Citizen Involvement in Cour Des Comptes

    FR0048, 2018, Capacity Building

  20. Private Sector Transparency

    FR0049, 2018, Asset Disclosure

  21. Access to Information on Public Officials

    FR0050, 2018, Asset Disclosure

  22. Open Regional and Local Authorities' Data

    FR0001, 2015, Fiscal Transparency

  23. Publish Municipal Council Decisions and Reports Online

    FR0002, 2015, E-Government

  24. Publish Building Permits in Open Data Format

    FR0003, 2015, Open Data

  25. Starred commitment Increase Transparency in Public Procurement

    FR0004, 2015, Open Contracting and Procurement

  26. Improve Transparency in International Development Aid

    FR0005, 2015, Aid

  27. Open Access to Public Policy Evaluations

    FR0006, 2015, E-Government

  28. Involve Citizens in Cour Des Comptes Work

    FR0007, 2015, Fiscal Transparency

  29. Access to Public Officials Transparency Obligations

    FR0008, 2015, E-Government

  30. Starred commitment Beneficial Ownership

    FR0009, 2015, Beneficial Ownership

  31. Transparency in Extractive Industries

    FR0010, 2015, Extractive Industries

  32. Transparency in International Trade Commercial Negotiations

    FR0011, 2015, Labor

  33. Fix My Neighborhood

    FR0012, 2015, E-Government

  34. Digital Fix-It

    FR0013, 2015, Open Data

  35. Co-Produce Data Infrastructure with Civil Society

    FR0014, 2015, Open Data

  36. Starred commitment Open Legal Resources

    FR0015, 2015, Legislation & Regulation

  37. Reform Participatory Mechanisms

    FR0016, 2015, Public Participation

  38. Mediation and Justice

    FR0017, 2015, Judiciary

  39. Starred commitment Open and Circulate Data

    FR0018, 2015, Land & Spatial Planning

  40. Open Calculation Models and Simulators

    FR0019, 2015, Open Data

  41. Open Platform for Government Resources

    FR0020, 2015, E-Government

  42. Improve Public Services Through E-Government and User Interaction

    FR0021, 2015, E-Government

  43. Empower Civil Society to Support Schools

    FR0022, 2015, E-Government

  44. Diversify Recruitment Within Public Institutions

    FR0023, 2015, Capacity Building

  45. Culture Change

    FR0024, 2015, Capacity Building

  46. Spread Public Innovation

    FR0025, 2015, Capacity Building

  47. Starred commitment Protect Against Conflicts of Interest

    FR0026, 2015, Conflicts of Interest

  48. Civil Society & Transparency in COP21 Conference Planning

    FR0027, 2015, Environment and Climate

  49. Open Data and Climate/Sustainable Development

    FR0028, 2015, Open Data

  50. Collaborate with Civil Society on Climate and Sustainable Development

    FR0029, 2015, Environment and Climate