Increased Access to Swedish Aid Information (SE0010)
Action Plan: Sweden, Second Action Plan, 2014-16
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA)
Support Institution(s): Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
Policy AreasAid, Civic Space, Freedom of Association, Open Data
The commitment on increased access to Swedish aid information aims to increase the transparency of aid spending and performance. Transparent information is a prerequisite for open debate and public participation, and facilitates accountability to citizens and organisations in partner countries and to Swedish taxpayers. More accessible information also provides a better basis for decisions and visibility of aid results, and limits the scope for corruption and misuse of resources. The commitment will be achieved mainly through further development of the Openaid.se platform. Improved IATI reporting will also
result in improvements in Openaid.se.
- Follow up the implementation of the transparency guarantee in Swedish aid in order to ensure that relevant routines are in place.
- Update Sweden’s Common Standard implementation schedule in order to further extend and broaden Sweden’s IATI reporting.
- Further develop the Openaid.se platform in order to extend and improve data quality, accessibility and usability.
The activities will mainly be performed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), based on several existing assignments and related working plans. In addition, the implementation of the Swedish
aid transparency guarantee applies to all public actors who have been allocated development assistance funds. Dialogue with civil society, e.g. regular meetings, contacts, and follow-up, will be carried out within each activity. For example, the Openaid.se platform maintains an open channel for communication and feedback from users. The activities will be implemented during the whole Action Plan time frame, focusing on the December 2015 deadline for full implementation of the Common Standard.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 3. Increased Access to Swedish Aid Information
Responsible institution: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
Supporting institution(s): Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
Start date: 2010.................... End date: 2016
Sweden is already a top performer in aid transparency at the global level. However, both the quantity and quality of aid data can still be improved. The overarching objective of this commitment is to improve transparency in the field of development aid by implementing the Swedish aid transparency guarantee (milestone 3.1). The transparency guarantee is a policy document introduced into Swedish development assistance in January 2010. The guarantee means that all public documents and public information will be made available online. The information must explain when, to whom, and why money has been made available and what results have been achieved.[Note 36: MFA, “A transparency guarantee in Swedish development assistance,” 11 June 2010, http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/12656/a/147849. ] In particular, the commitment sets out to: [Note 37: The statement about expected impact is based on what is written in Sweden’s “Mid-term Self-Assessment Report: Open Government Partnership, National Action Plan 2013–2015.”]
• Implement the Swedish aid transparency guarantee (3.1);
• Implement the Common Standard on Swedish development cooperation (3.2);
• Substantially improve the Openaid.se platform (3.3); and
• Publish anti-corruption reports in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) format on Openaid.se (3.4).
Despite good progress, the aid transparency guarantee was not fully implemented. The implementation of the transparency guarantee is carried out mainly through the improvement of the Openaid.se platform (milestone 3.3), as well as by broadening Sweden’s IATI reporting (3.2 and 3.4). However, about one-third of aid expenditures (mainly refugee costs) are traceable only on a generic level. This means that one cannot monitor expenditures through all stages of the process (i.e., decision, implementation, and monitoring).
In order to implement the aid transparency guarantee, the IRM researcher recommended in the midterm assessment report that the level of detail of Swedish aid financing information should increase. This additional information should include further specifying information on aid flows, in particular the refugee costs in Sweden and “unspecified” aid, and more and better-detailed data on forward spending. For more information, please see the 2013–2014 midterm IRM report.
End of term: Substantial
Based on the government self-assessment report, interviews with government officials, and media monitoring conducted by the IRM researcher, there was progress on the implementation of the unfinished milestones. Sweden has taken significant steps towards full implementation of the Common Standard (3.2) and is on the highest ranks of the IATI dashboard (sixth of all publishers).[Note 38: The IATI dashboard was accessed on 13 October 16, http://dashboard.iatistandard.org/transparencyindicator.html. ] According to the Publish What You Fund (PWYF) 2016 EU Aid Transparency Index, Sweden has now met the Busan commitment on aid transparency[Note 39: The Busan commitments were agreed upon in 2011 at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea. They offer a framework for continued dialogue and efforts to enhance the effectiveness of development cooperation. These are the key principles: (i) ownership of development priorities by developing countries, (ii) a focus on results—having a sustainable impact should be the driving force behind investments and efforts in development policy making, (iii) partnerships for development—development depends on the participation of all actors, and recognises the diversity and complementarity of their functions, and (iv) transparency and shared responsibility.] and publishes 34 of 36 items assessed in the index in the IATI Standard (related to milestones 3.2 and 3.3).[Note 40: Publish What You Fund (PWYF) 2016 EU Aid Transparency Index, page on Sweden: http://ati.publishwhatyoufund.org/donor/sweden/.%5D PWYF ranks Sweden among the top 10 performers in aid transparency in 2016 and commends it for its efforts in dramatically improving the timeliness and the comprehensiveness of aid information since 2011.[Note 41: The 2016 Aid Transparency Index uses 39 indicators grouped into weighted categories to assess how transparent donor organisations are about their aid activities. These categories cover overall commitment to aid transparency and publication of information at both the organisational and activity level, Publish What You Fund (PWYF) 2016 EU Aid Transparency Index, http://ati.publishwhatyoufund.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ATI-2016_Report_Proof_DIGITAL.pdf. ]
However, despite good progress on this commitment, the aid transparency guarantee, which means that all public documents and public information related to Swedish development assistance will be made available online,[Note 42: The information must explain when, to whom, and why money has been made available and what results have been achieved. Government Offices, A transparency guarantee in Swedish development assistance, http://www.regeringen.se/informationsmaterial/2010/06/ud10.052/.%5D was not fully implemented.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Marginal
Public accountability: Did not change
The commitment aimed at improving transparency in the field of development aid by implementing the Swedish aid transparency guarantee. Sweden provides comprehensive and timely aid information and is considered a world leader in aid transparency.[Note 43: Publish What You Fund (PWYF) 2016 EU Aid Transparency Index, page on Sweden: http://ati.publishwhatyoufund.org/donor/sweden/.%5D
However, the quality of the aid information disclosed to the public improved only marginally during the OGP action plan period. A large share of the aid expenditure (approximately 37 percent, which consists of refugee costs) is still traceable only on a generic level, which means that it cannot be followed through the whole chain of information (i.e., decision, implementation, and monitoring).[Note 44: For more information, please see the 2013–2014 midterm IRM report.] This leads the IRM researcher to conclude that this commitment improved access to information to a limited extent.
With regards to public accountability, the publication of anti-corruption reports on the Openaid.se portal in IATI format (milestone 3.4) is a positive development. There is evidence that at least one major newspaper in Sweden has used this service for reporting purposes.[Note 45: Elias Andersson, “Sida kräver tillbaka miljonbelopp,” Expressen, 6 January 2015, http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/sida-kraver-tillbaka-miljonbelopp/.%5D The publication of outcomes from corruption investigations is critical for closing the reporting feedback loop. The value added by making reports available as open data is that it may allow for the discovery of interesting patterns by journalists or civil society organisations. However, the reports were already publicly available, and there has been little evidence of their widespread use. Additionally, the IRM researcher was unable to find evidence of change in government practice as a result of implementing this commitment.
Sweden has not yet released its next action plan; hence, it is too early to say whether the commitment has been carried forward. Based on the previous IRM assessment and interviews with government stakeholders, the IRM researcher recommends the following steps to complete this commitment and to advance aid transparency in Sweden:
• Further specify information on aid flows, in particular the refugee costs in Sweden;
• Improve reporting procedures and continue to move towards the publishing of data in IATI format, not only by the government but also by CSOs. This is a joint commitment that could be made between the Swedish government and civil society;
• Improve procedures and awareness of data quality in the project contribution management process among the government staff;[Note 46: Elias Rådelius, “White paper, Part 4: Keys to success and the road ahead,” 28 May 2015, http://www.openaid.se/blog/part-4-keys-to-success-and-the-road-ahead/. ] and
• Provide more and better detailed data on forward spending, as stressed by both government and civil society interviewees. This would allow comparison with what other donors are planning in a specific country.
Moreover, according to the findings of the 2016 EU Aid Transparency Index, Sweden should:[Note 47: Publish What You Fund (PWYF) 2016 EU Aid Transparency Index, page on Sweden: http://ati.publishwhatyoufund.org/donor/sweden/.%5D
• Aim for full implementation of the IATI Standard by including tenders and the budget identifier.
• Improve the quality and coverage of some of the items published at the activity level, starting with planned dates, sub-national locations, and contracts.
• Continue to play a leading role in the IATI community and maximise the benefits of its transparency efforts by developing a strategy to promote internal and external use of its data with all relevant stakeholders in particular at the country level.
SE0013, 2016, Environment and Climate
Re-Use of Public Administration Documents and Open Data
SE0014, 2016, Land & Spatial Planning
Transparency in Aid Management
SE0015, 2016, Aid
Developing a New Format for Dialogue with CSOs
SE0016, 2016, Public Participation
Putting Citizens at the Centre (Egovernment) of Government Administration Reforms
SE0008, 2014, Legislation & Regulation
A Step Further on the Re-Use of Public Administration Documents
SE0009, 2014, Capacity Building
Increased Access to Swedish Aid Information
SE0010, 2014, Aid
Improved Opportunities for Dialogue and Transparency in Aid Management and Implementation
SE0011, 2014, Aid
Increased Aid Transparency at Global Level
SE0012, 2014, Aid
Continuing the Development of the Openaid.Se Platform
SE0001, 2012, Aid
Ensuring Full Implementation of the IATI Standard by 2015
SE0002, 2012, Aid
Implementing the Commitments in the Busan Partnership Document
SE0003, 2012, Aid
Playing a Leading Role in the Building Block on Transparency
SE0004, 2012, Capacity Building
Contributing to Further Define the Work Towards an EU Transparency Guarantee
SE0005, 2012, Capacity Building
Engaging in the Open Aid Partnership and Promoting ICT4D
SE0006, 2012, Aid
Broadening Open Government Commitments
SE0007, 2012, OGP