Transparency and Participation in International Aid (DE0020)
Action Plan: Germany Action Plan 2019-2021
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Support Institution(s): Federal implementing organisations (GIZ, KfW, BGR, PTB, Engagement Global); Federal Foreign Office; additional ministries, German development cooperation NGOs, Transparency International, Open Knowledge Foundation
Policy AreasAccess to Information, Public Participation
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
The publication of current, detailed project information and data on development cooperation
in the spirit of the open data principles provides the foundation for evidence-based decisions
and for participation in the partner countries of German development cooperation, which
is a necessary precondition for achieving international development goals. Coordination,
accountability and participation at national and international level are strengthened
considerably by open data. The IATI Standard of the International Aid Transparency Initiative,
which was agreed internationally to that end, is implemented within the Federal Government
only partially and by individual ministries. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation
and Development (BMZ) now publishes updated data and information on a monthly basis
in accordance with the Standard (developed further within the 1st NAP), but it does not yet
entirely fulfil its requirements.
Achieving transparency goals requires additional measures to expand and improve the
quality and usability of data. Ongoing development measures should be presented in a
coherent and comprehensive way. The ministries and other participants in German development cooperation are striving for a coordinated approach to principles of transparency. We
also need to specifically promote the use of the published data, especially in developing
countries, in order to facilitate informed political participation and coordination of development cooperation. This is a matter of imparting knowledge but also of creating links with our
partners’ data systems.
What is the commitment?
Building on the dialogue process that was started with the first NAP, structured formats
with German stakeholders in development cooperation, civil society and ministries will be
expanded within the framework of the ODA transparency expert group that was founded
in 2018. These formats serve the goal of implementing and using the IATI Standard and
facilitating the coordination of basic guidelines regarding the publication of information.
The BMZ will set up a management system to optimise and safeguard data quality and to
expand German IATI reporting.
An IATI visualisation portal of the BMZ is intended to improve the usability of IATI data. A
strategy will be created to encourage the use of IATI data, especially in partner countries
and for donor coordination but also by the German public; workshops in partner countries
will be used to develop clear courses of action.
How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
The measures will directly tackle the following challenges:
• Expanding, updating and consolidating the pool of information regarding German development cooperation
•Improving its potential for utilisation
•Improving all private individuals’ access, use of information and thus participation in issues concerning development cooperation, especially in Germany and our partner countries
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
Transparency is a foundational principle of effective development cooperation. Disclosing
the use of funds makes German development cooperation more predictable and comprehensible.
The commitments are relevant to accountability, anti-corruption and political participation. Continuing the dialogue between state and non-state actors regarding transparent
development cooperation strengthens mutual trust and fosters long-term constructive
cooperation in the spirit of open policy design.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
5. Promotion of transparency and participation in development cooperation
“Building on the dialogue process that was started with the first NAP, structured formats with German stakeholders in development cooperation, civil society and ministries will be expanded within the framework of the ODA transparency expert group that was founded in 2018. These formats serve the goal of implementing and using the IATI Standard and facilitating the coordination of basic guidelines regarding the publication of information. The BMZ will set up a management system to optimize and safeguard data quality and to expand German IATI reporting.
An IATI visualization portal of the BMZ is intended to improve the usability of IATI data. A strategy will be created to encourage the use of IATI data, especially in partner countries and for donor coordination but also by the German public; workshops in partner countries will be used to develop clear courses of action.”
5.1. Utilization concept: Specifying potential for use and obstacles to use regarding IATI data. Conceptualizing and implementing support measures
5.2. Coordinating strategic steps with ministries and civil society to implement principles of open data (especially from the G8 Open Data Charter) and open government in the context of development cooperation as well as expanding IATI data reporting (regarding current data reporters and potentially additional ones)
5.3. Developing an advanced training format
5.4. Carrying out training events on the IATI Standard and IATI data for development policy players from German civil society
5.5. Introducing an IATI data QA system (especially a feedback mechanism) and expanding the BMZ’s IATA data (project reports, impact data, etc.)
5.6. Developing a BMZ visualization portal to improve the presentation of data
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Germany’s action plan at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Germany_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf.
This commitment aims to further expand the quality and scope of data on Germany’s international aid. It seeks to establish a broader dialogue with civil society and partner countries on reporting in this area, as well as on strategies for greater data use and integration. This commitment builds on Commitment 6 from Germany’s first action plan (2017−2019). This previous commitment resulted in the publication of more granular and more frequent reporting within the framework of Germany’s participation in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). It also saw constructive dialogue with civil society through international workshops on aid transparency. 
This current commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information, as it promises to expand transparency of Germany’s development sector. It is also relevant to civic participation as it will engage civil society in evolving aid transparency and work with partner countries to develop measures for uptake and data integration.
While the government began conversations with German and international civil society groups around aid transparency during the first action plan, there remained considerable potential for expanding, deepening, and systematizing these efforts.  The government could also improve data presentation, usability, and usage.  This new commitment directly addresses some shortcomings in IATI implementation and data use. For example, producing a utilization concept (Milestone 5.1) lays the foundation for more targeted measures to promote data use and re-use. Additionally, a quality management system with a feedback function (Milestone 5.5) addresses a significant issue raised by the IATI community. More than 90% of publishers find feedback desirable but less than half solicit feedback on their platforms. 
The inclusion of data on impact could enable users to trace the results of projects and thus lay foundations for enhanced accountability of aid. It is also noteworthy that measures to promote data use are not confined to international or German development actors but extend to stakeholders in partner countries and the integration of reported data with information systems in host countries.
Efforts to encourage other development stakeholders inside and outside the government to adopt IATI-level reporting are important given that the current reporting landscape in the German development community is diverse and characterized by variable levels of ambition. The coordination of strategic steps with civil society could explicitly include public participation and transcend the consultative remit of the internal expert group established during the first action plan.  Implementing this commitment could also benefit from the considerable momentum and senior-level support for expanded aid transparency that the preceding commitment generated.  Finally, this implementation comes when IATI-style reporting is evolving into an important building block for integrated, high-quality information systems around humanitarian emergencies, monitoring Sustainable Development Goals, and managing partner country administrative information. 
For greater impact, the IRM researcher recommends ensuring high uptake of IATI standards by new reporting entities as well as transparent tracking of comments and follow-ups in the feedback system. It is also recommended to develop customizable visualization features, as well as seamless integration with other development information systems. Finally, it could be beneficial to harness the momentum around aid data to invite greater transparency in the broader aid community, including the Reconstruction Credit Institute (Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau). 
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