Skip Navigation
Sweden

transparency in aid management (SE0015)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Sweden Third National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Support Institution(s): The Government Offices, including missions abroad and relevant authorities that have an overarching responsibility for state-financed Swedish development cooperation, National civil society organisations.

Policy Areas

Aid, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Civic Space, E-Government, Fiscal Transparency, Freedom of Association, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sweden End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Sweden Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Commitment 3. Improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation; Lead ministry/agency: Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Other actors involved: Government agencies; The Government Offices, including missions abroad and relevant authorities that have an overarching responsibility for state-financed Swedish development cooperation. CSOs, private sector National civil society organisations.; Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed: The challenge is to effectively increase engagement in development issues and strengthen the results of Swedish development cooperation and its contribution to sustainable global development.; Main objectives: To create an inclusive dialogue between the Government and the civil society organisations and make use of the role and added value of civil society organisations to achieve the overall development objectives.; Main activities: - Promote independence and autonomy by working towards a favourable environment for civil society organisations, safeguarding their autonomy to carry out their own activities and promoting their role as collective voices and opinion makers. - Maintain a good dialogue by informing and consulting civil society at an early stage on upcoming strategies, key decisions or changes in Swedish development cooperation. - Promote quality in development cooperation by conducting continual evaluations and research on development cooperation, spread knowledge and work for increased aid and development efficiency, and work for increased aid and development effectiveness in accordance with the declarations made in Paris, Accra and Busan. - Promote a long-term approach and sustainability in development cooperation by ensuring clear and long-term conditions for civil society organisations to pursue their activities. - Take action to increase openness and transparency in development cooperation by: • working in these areas at bilateral, EU and multilateral level, • where relevant, giving civil society organisations access to contacts, information and knowledge in the area of development cooperation, • strengthening a free and open exchange of views on development cooperation, • combating corruption within the framework of handling Swedish aid funds and setting requirements for and supporting cooperation partners’ effort to combat corruption, and • promoting openness in relationships and the dialogue between the Government and civil society organisations. - Apply a diversity principle by promoting a variety of civil society organisations and showing new civil society actors openness and development cooperation methods. - Further develop procedures for managing reports of suspected corruption and other complaints that impact Swedish aid funds.; OGP challenge addressed by the commitment: - More effectively managing public resources. - Increasing corporate accountability; Is it relevant to the advancement of: Transparency: Openness and a free exchange of views promote transparency.; Accountability: Quality and a longterm approach drive increased accountability in aid management.; Public participation: A fruitful dialogue is a prerequisite for engagement and public participation.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

3. Improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation

Commitment Text:

The commitment on improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation aims to increase knowledge and participation. Greater knowledge and involvement of more actors create better possibilities for accountability and promote fresh thinking. Increased transparency may also limit the scope for corruption and misuse of resources. The commitment will mainly be achieved through strengthening channels for dialogue and feedback on aid management and implementation with different parts of society.

Main activities:

Promote independence and autonomy by working towards a favourable environment for civil society organisations, safeguarding their autonomy to carry out their own activities and promoting their role as collective voices and opinion makers. [Milestone 3.1: Promote the role of civil society organisations as collective voices and opinion makers, in Sweden and nationally.]

Maintain a good dialogue by informing and consulting civil society at an early stage on upcoming strategies, key decisions or changes in Swedish development cooperation. [Milestone 3.4: Consult civil society ahead of overarching and key decisions on Swedish aid policy; Milestone 3.3: Create space for civil society to hold a dialogue and develop information exchange on various policy issues.]

Promote quality in development cooperation by conducting continual evaluation and research on development cooperation, spread knowledge and work for increased aid and development efficiency and work for increased aid and development. [No corresponding milestone].

Promote a long-term approach and sustainability in development cooperation by ensuring clear and long-term conditions for civil society organisations to pursue their activities. [Milestone 2: Work to create a favourable environment for civil society organisations to operate in Sweden and internationally.]

Take action to increase openness and transparency in development cooperation by:

o working in these areas at bilateral, EU and multilateral level,

o where relevant, giving civil society organisations access to contacts, information and knowledge in the area of development cooperation,

o strengthening a free and open exchange of views on development cooperation

o combating corruption within the framework of handling Swedish aid funds and setting requirements for and supporting cooperation partners’ effort to combat corruption

o promoting openness in relationships and the dialogue between the Government and civil society organisations

Apply a diversity principle by promoting a variety of civil society organisations and showing new civil society actors openness and development cooperation methods. [No corresponding milestone.]

Further develop procedures for managing reports of suspected corruption and other complaints that impact Swedish aid funds. [No corresponding milestone.]

Responsible institution: Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Supporting institutions: The Government Offices, including missions abroad and relevant authorities that have an overarching responsibility for state-financed Swedish development cooperation.

Start date: 2015 End date: None for most milestones

Context and Objectives

Sweden is a committed international donor with an aid budget of SEK 46.1 billion (USD 5.6 billion) in 2017. [Note173: Sweden’s development aid budget amounts to 0.99% of its gross national income (GNI). 'Development aid budget' (Sida, 4 Jan. 2017), http://www.sida.se/English/About-us/Budget/.] The aid-effectiveness agenda referenced in the action plan requires strong governance, long-term commitment, and a role for internationally operating CSOs. This commitment includes a suite of activities to improve the quality of development aid coming from Sweden and to broaden opportunities for dialogue with CSOs. The latter aim is particularly important considering that recently, Swedish CSOs have emphasised they are not sufficiently involved in the development of aid policy. [Note174: See Sweden’s second action plan: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sweden-second-action-plan-2014-16.]

Many of the actions and milestones derive from the 2015 'Joint Commitments' between Swedish CSOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which were partially the subject of earlier action plans. They follow six principles: (1) autonomy and independence, (2) dialogue, (3) quality, (4) sustainability, (5) openness and transparency, and (6) diversity. Because most of the activities and milestones promote strong, diverse dialogue and an operating role for CSOs in development aid, they are relevant primarily to the OGP value of civic participation. (However, the activity on effective research does not have a clear public-facing element as written.) Despite this, many of the actions, however laudable for overarching goals (e.g. 'Work to create a favorable environment for civil society'), largely lack means for verification.

The key element is the 'Joint Commitments between Swedish CSOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,' [Note175: The adopted commitments are available (in Swedish) at: http://www.regeringen.se/contentassets/756e79c7e6d14aca966ab95c85d8bc50/150701-gemensamma-ataganden.pdf.] which spans six milestones in this commitment (3.1 to 3.6). [Note176: It is also worth noting that the Joint Commitments were part of a milestone already in the previous OGP action plan. See Milestone 4.3, 'A negotiated CSO compact, including regular follow-up on implementation' in Sweden’s second action plan.] The Joint Commitments aim to enhance dialogue between the government and CSOs and define the role of CSOs in Swedish development aid. The government decided to launch the Joint Commitments to improve relations with CSOs and to emphasise the important role they play in development. The government and civil society jointly negotiated the Joint Commitments document through a series of face-to-face and written consultations that involved numerous CSOs. The document, adopted by the government in 2015, lays out six core principles of civil society-government cooperation. The milestones in this commitment fall under four of these principles: Milestones 3.1 and 3.2 are in line with the principle of dialogue, Milestone 3.3 with the principle of diversity, Milestone 3.4 with the principle of openness and transparency, and Milestones 3.5 and 3.6 with the principle of quality. Most of the Joint Commitment milestones (3.1–3.6) could have moderate to transformative impact. However, as written, the scope of most milestones under this commitment remains unclear (low specificity) and would benefit from a clearer formulation to measure progress.

The other milestones focus on increased aid development efficiency and effectiveness (Milestone 3.7) and on anti-corruption measures (Milestones 3.8 and 3.9). [Note177: Please note that Sweden has already made a commitment similar to Milestone 3.9 in the previous action plan (see Milestone '4.6 Establish procedures for corruption and complaints handling'). However, at the time, the IRM researcher could not establish what that milestone aimed to achieve despite interviews with the relevant MFA officials. The interviewees stated that the MFA and Sida continuously monitor Swedish aid funds through organisational assessments of the multilateral development organisations funded by Sweden or through similar means. When the MFA or Sida find gaps in the anti-corruption and complaints-handling procedures of multilateral development organisations, a dialogue with the relevant organisation is initiated to address the problem. See the second IRM report: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sweden-2014-2015-irm-progress-report.] Milestone 3.7 concerns meeting participation and strategy revision (see more details below) but has low specificity and low potential impact, as worded. Milestones 3.8 and 3.9 have low to medium specificity considering their formulation. However, if these milestones are fully implemented, they could have at least moderate impact for several reasons. First, the number of corruption reports to Sida is growing (see more details under 'Early results' below). Second, Sweden is a major international donor with a 2017 aid budget of SEK 46.1 billion. [Note178: Sweden’s development aid budget amounts to 0.99% of its gross national income (GNI). 'Development aid budget' (Sida, 4 Jan. 2017), http://www.sida.se/English/About-us/Budget/.] A large share of its development assistance is unearmarked without direct Swedish control. It would therefore be very significant if the Swedish government were to advocate for and negotiate enhanced procedures for corruption and complaints handling in multilateral and bilateral partner organisations. Third, this type of commitment is especially imperative as large multinational organisations, such as United Nations (UN) organisations, tend to have very weak mechanisms for dealing with corruption and other irregularities. This weakness was exemplified by a recent whistleblowing case involving a Swedish national, a former director of field operations at the UN human rights office in Geneva, Anders Kompass. Kompass was suspended for exposing the sexual abuse of children by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. [Note179: Sandra Laville, 'Child sex abuse whistleblower resigns from UN,' (The Guardian, 7 Jun. 2016), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/07/child-sex-abuse-whistleblower-resigns-from-un.] Finally, the importance of such a commitment was also stressed by civil society stakeholders interviewed by the IRM researcher for the previous IRM report. [Note180: See the second IRM report.]

The commitment is relevant to the OGP values 'Access to information' and 'Civic participation.' The first three milestones are relevant to civic participation:

  • 3.1 seeks to create a space for dialogue with the civil society;
  • 3.2 aims at improving consultations with civil society; and
  • 3.3 seeks to diversify the range of CSOs consulted by the government.

Milestones 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6 aim to increase public access to information on development aid, conduct research on development cooperation, and promote knowledge for increased development efficiency. Milestones 3.7 and 3.8 have a very broad scope and are vaguely worded, and were therefore assessed as not relevant to OGP values by the IRM researcher.

Completion

Given that only one of the milestones had an end date (2016 for Milestone 3.2), the IRM researcher could not assess whether the overall commitment is on time.

The MFA has made progress on Milestones 3.1 and 3.2 by holding regular discussions with CSOs, including dialogue about key decisions on Swedish aid policy.

In the framework of Milestone 3.1 (creating space for CSO dialogue and information exchange), the MFA has held several meetings and events with a number of CSOs. The MFA regularly invites CSOs from a list of 78 organisations, mostly professional NGOs, to discuss the implementation of the Joint Commitments. These organisations all have endorsed the Joint Commitments and a number of them (18 organisations) are formal members, which means that they are committed to active participation in this venture. The Joint Commitments also have a working group consisting of government and civil society representatives, which is monitoring the implementation of the commitments. The working group meets regularly in Stockholm. [Note181: In 2017, meetings took place in February, March and a working meeting was planned in June 2017.] The meeting notes are accessible to the public on the dedicated government webpage. [Note182: The government webpage summarising the process and containing links to relevant documents: http://www.regeringen.se/artiklar/2017/05/Regeringens-och-svenska-civilsamhallesorganisationers-gemensamma-ataganden-for-starkt-dialog-och-samverkan-inom-utvecklingssamarbetet/. ]

The largest event organised by the MFA during this evaluation period was the annual civil society forum on 13 February 2017 in Stockholm, which focused on the Joint Commitments. [Note183: The programme of the civil society forum that took place on 13 February 2017: http://www.regeringen.se/4908a5/contentassets/7890481bc47748cb88c718be3189fe75/civilsamhallet-program-for-det-arliga-civilsamhallesforumet-den-13-februari-2017.pdf.] Forum participants discussed strategies in the field of development cooperation and a session was dedicated to the Policy Framework for Swedish Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, [Note184: 'Policyramverk för svenskt utvecklingssamarbete och humanitärt bistånd' ID-nummer: Skr. 2016/17:60 (Government Offices, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 Dec. 2016), http://www.regeringen.se/rattsdokument/skrivelse/2016/12/skr-20161760/.] which is in line with the goal of Milestone 3.2 (consulting CSOs prior to key decisions on Swedish aid policy). High-level government officials participated, including the Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Isabella Lövin, who answered questions from civil society. It is worth noting that the civil society representatives were given an active role in the forum. For example, representatives from three CSOs presented the Joint Commitments at the opening of the forum and led the discussion about what the Commitments had meant in practice. [Note185: http://www.forumsyd.org/Media-Opinion/Nyheter/2017/Forum-Syd-omvald-i-arbetsgrupp-for-starkt-civilsamhalle/]

The IRM researcher has found limited evidence regarding progress on the implementation of Milestones 3.3 and 3.4, which focus on the principles of diversity, and openness and transparency of the Joint Commitments. The MFA has managed to involve quite a large number of CSOs in the development of the commitments. However, there are some limitations in the diversity of the CSOs involved and some variance between individual CSOs’ roles in the process. The MFA seems to lack a structured approach for increasing the diversity of the involved CSOs. [Note186: Edvard Agrell (Secretary General of the Christian Democratic International Center), interview with the IRM researcher, 8 Sept. 2017.]

The sharing of information and contacts between the government and the CSOs (Milestone 3.4) generally works well, although in some cases this principle is unevenly applied across organisations. One interviewee reflected that the situation is inconsistent among Swedish institutions abroad (e.g. embassies), where information sharing often depends on the capacity of the individual institution and the attitude of management. [Note187: Id.] According to MFA representatives, this variation in dialogue with CSOs is unremarkable considering different country contexts and resource availability. [Note188: Marina Berg (MFA) and Johanna Teague (MFA), interview with the IRM researcher, 25 Sept. 2017.]

Concerning Milestone 3.5, Sida conducts evaluations on a regular basis, approximately 50 per year, all published on Sida’s home page. [Note189: Frank Svensson (MFA), email to the IRM researcher, 13 Oct. 2017.] Sida's Unit for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation commissions independent evaluations assessing Sida-financed development co-operation. These 'strategic evaluations' are often thematic and large-scale. [Note190: Sida’s evaluation web page: http://www.sida.se/English/how-we-work/evaluations1/.] In the OGP action plan period, two strategic evaluations were published. [Note191: The two evaluations were published in August 2016: 'Evaluation of the extent to which Sida's contribution management system is fit for purpose' and 'Evaluation of Sida’s Use of Guarantees for Market Development and Poverty Reduction.' (http://www.sida.se/English/how-we-work/evaluations1/Recent-evaluations/.)] Sida also carries out decentralised evaluations, which means that Sida’s departments, units, as well as the foreign missions evaluate development assistance efforts within their respective area of responsibility. Finally, the Swedish National Audit Office (Riksrevisionen) and the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) conduct external and independent evaluations of Sida's work. According to the MFA, in recent years, Sida has strengthened its evaluation function in terms of both staff and strategy. Furthermore, in 2013, the government established the expert group for aid studies (EBA), a committee with a high degree of independence, with the role of implementing and disseminating evaluations and analyses of Swedish development cooperation. EBA has so far published 33 studies and 23 summaries of academic theses, all public. In 2018, the government foresees to increase EBA’s budget to SEK 17.7 million (about USD 2.2 million). [Note192: Svensson, email.] Sweden also funds various think tanks and research institutions studying development cooperation. [Note193: Id.] In addition, Sweden stresses partner countries’ role in evaluation, and since 2016, Sida is chairing OECD Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC’s) task force on national Evaluation Capacity Building. [Note194: Id.]

Milestone 3.6, spreading knowledge for increased aid and development efficiency,

is primarily based on the quality principle of the Joint Commitments. [Note195: Id.] In preparations for the high-level meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) in November 2016, the Swedish Government hosted meetings with CSOs. In addition, the Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Isabella Lövin, raised the issue of development effectiveness in Swedish media. [Note196: Id.]

Milestone 3.7 is focused on increased aid development efficiency and effectiveness in accordance with the declarations made in Paris, Accra, and Busan. According to the MFA, Sweden actively participated in the high-level meeting of the GPEDC in November 2016 in Nairobi. The Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate headed a large delegation including parliamentarians, CSOs, businesses, and a youth representative. During the preparations and the meeting itself, Sweden was a vocal advocate for ambitious commitments to development efficacy, particularly regarding gender equality, the role of civil society, and the importance of effective development cooperation in fragile states. [Note197: Id.] During the action plan period, the government has also revised the 'Policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian assistance,' which is a key document that outlines the direction of Swedish development cooperation. [Note198: The government submitted the Communication about the Policy framework to the Riksdag on 14 December 2016. Link to the 'Policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian assistance' Ref. ID 2016/17:60: http://www.government.se/legal-documents/2017/05/policy-framework-for-swedish-development-cooperation-and-humanitarian-assistance/.] The framework emphasises development effectiveness principles, such as partner country ownership and broad development partnerships. The framework operates through strategies and guidelines, which also place emphasis on development effectiveness. [Note199: Svensson, email.]

Milestone 3.8 is about setting requirements for and supporting cooperation partners’ efforts to combat corruption. The MFA reports that Sida continuously supports interventions that reduce corruption in partner countries either directly (e.g. through support for anti-corruption laws, anti-corruption agencies, and NGOs working against corruption) or indirectly (e.g. through supporting judicial reforms, independent media, public financial management, ombudsman bodies, and parliamentary oversight). Sida regularly assesses the cooperation partners’ internal control systems and their ability to manage corruption risks and take action when corruption is suspected. Sida also assess its own capacity to support partners in order to strengthen identified weaknesses in these areas. Recently, Sida has adopted a broader approach to support partner countries with an increased focus on corruption as a key obstacle to development. MFA expects the implementation of this broader approach to benefit cooperation partners’ efforts to combat corruption. [Note200: Id.]

Milestone 3.9 is about developing procedures for managing reports of suspected corruption and other complaints that impact Swedish aid funds. The MFA reports that Sida has continued to develop its procedures for corruption risk assessment and the management of suspected corruption. [Note201: Id.]

Early Results

Consulted civil society representatives affirm that the Joint Commitments are a valuable platform for raising issues with the government. [Note202: The IRM researcher held the stakeholder consultation about Sweden’s OGP Action Plan 2016-18 on 22 August 2017, in Stockholm.] The Joint Commitments represent a structured space for dialogue; regular meetings between the government and CSOs contribute to the sustainability and progress of the commitments. MFA representatives assert that they are satisfied with the structure for implementing the Joint Commitments that is now in place. [Note203: Berg, interview; Teague, interview.] The MFA has also sent the Swedish authorities abroad a survey on the implementation of the Joint Commitments. The survey shows variances in how authorities have implemented the commitments. Certain authorities meet with CSOs on an ad-hoc basis, often at CSO's requests. Others are now carrying out more regular consultations with civil society and routinely include CSOs in ongoing work, while some have even developed dialogue platforms. The survey also indicates that the Joint Commitment principles and guidelines have worked well to support the daily work of authorities. The role of Swedish CSOs in reaching out to local partners is considered particularly valuable. However, some respondents see a challenge in the obligation authorities feel to prioritise Swedish CSOs ahead of foreign CSOs. [Note204: The aim of the survey was to get feedback on how Swedish authorities abroad have progressed on the commitments, as well as to collect suggestions about how the implementation of the Joint Commitments could be strengthened. This was an internal survey but the MFA kindly shared a summary of the questions and answers from the MFA's units and from over 40 foreign authorities that responded to the IRM researcher.]

A civil society representative interviewed by the IRM researcher emphasises that implementation has been uneven over time. [Note205: Agrell, interview.] At the moment, the participation from the CSOs seems to have stalled. [Note206: Id.] This is due to multiple factors, including a different political atmosphere than that at the time of the development of the Joint Commitments, and the existence of other, well-functioning forms of dialogue between the government and Swedish CSOs. At the same time, the interviewed CSO representative emphasises the commitments probably have a long-term value, as their principles have validity beyond changes in government. [Note207: Id.]

The MFA has made good progress on Milestones 3.1 and 3.2 by holding regular discussions with CSOs and consulting them about key decisions on Swedish aid policy. Several CSOs praised the value of the civil society forum held in February 2017. [Note208: 'Minnesanteckningar, arbetsgruppen för Gemensamma Åtaganden, GÅ' (16 Mar. 2017), http://www.regeringen.se/49b881/contentassets/5c5ec6059051492099de6372662fdc05/gemensamma-20170316_minnesanteckningar-arbetsgrupp-for-ga.pdf.] However, some civil society representatives emphasised that the Joint Commitments are relatively unknown among some CSOs, resulting in many participants unprepared to discuss commitment implementation. [Note209: Id.] There is little evidence of progress on Milestones 3.3 and 3.4 (applying the diversity principle and CSO access to information). The IRM researcher concludes that in order to have an objective assessment of these milestones, a more in-depth assessment of the Joint Commitments would need to be conducted by a third party.

Concerning Milestone 3.5, focused on evaluations and research, it goes beyond the scope of the IRM report to assess the effects of all the evaluations commissioned by Sida and EBA in the OGP action plan period. Nevertheless, the IRM researcher notes that several EBA evaluations are cited in articles and opinion pieces by major Swedish newspapers, such as Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, and Aftonbladet, which indicates that they prompt public debate about issues raised in the evaluations. [Note210: David Nilsson and Sverker Sörlin, 'Debate: Global development research is not an aid issue' (Dagens Nyheter, 5 Jul. 2017), https://www.dn.se/ekonomi/global-utveckling/debatt-forskning-for-global-utveckling-ar-inte-en-bistandsgrej/.]

Regarding Milestone 3.6, spreading knowledge for increased aid and development efficiency, the MFA has not analysed the milestone activities [Note211: Svensson, email.] and the IRM researcher has been unable to find any relevant external assessments or reports.

Regarding increased aid development efficiency and effectiveness (Milestone 3.7) and the GPEDC meeting in Nairobi, the MFA believes that documents from the meeting largely reflect Sweden’s high ambitions for global development efficacy. However, the MFA has not analysed specific effects of Sweden’s participation [Note212: Id.] and the IRM researcher has been unable to find any relevant external assessments or reports.

As regards to the management of corruption reporting (Milestone 3.9), the number of corruption reports to Sida is growing. In 2016, Sida received 225 notifications of corruption or irregularities, and claimed recovery in 73 cases for a total amount of SEK 70.2 million (USD 8.6 million), the highest amount since these types of statistics began to be compiled. [Note213: Sida has received 225 notifications of corruption or irregularities, which is the highest figure since the statistics began to be compiled in 2007. During the same year, Sida has claimed recovery in 73 cases for a total amount of SEK 70.2 million (USD 8.6 million), the highest amount since 2014 when recovery statistics began to be compiled. 'Sida's handling of corruption suspicions' 2016 annual report (Sida, 2017), http://www.sida.se/contentassets/523bc20df4a1481282f8fe96ed49bf2b/eb2f8905-b081-437d-a0b3-9262c20ef457.pdf.] According to a Sida report, this significant increase, specifically last year, is due to a wider awareness of what and how to report, both internally and among Sida’s partners. Sida’s report concludes that targeted initiatives are important in order to establish and keep open the information paths about irregularities. As of 2017, Sida is planning to further strengthen cooperation between Sida and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to both improve information exchange and cooperation on corruption issues and to establish Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with multilateral organisations on the exchange of information. Sida has previously signed an MoU with investigative units of the World Bank and the EU. [Note214: Id.] Moreover, Sida has published 150 finalised corruption cases on Open Aid in 2016 and recently decided to improve institutional learning from corruption cases through the creation of a lessons-learned portfolio and staff training during 2017 and 2018. [Note215: Svensson, email.]

Next Steps

The IRM researcher concurs with the following recommendations regarding the Joint Commitments (JC) that consulted civil society representatives put forward:

  • Increase the diversity of participants: The MFA should adopt a structured approach for involving different types of government and civil society organisations, especially smaller CSOs, in the implementation of the JC; [Note216: Stakeholder consultation, 22 Aug. 2017, Stockholm.]
  • Improve access to aid information: Sida should improve access to aid information (i) on the level of country, regional and thematic portfolios, and (ii) about the management of aid by Swedish authorities abroad in order to make it easier for CSOs to apply for funding and form project proposals. In particular, the civil society representatives recommended Sida:
    • increase the involvement of civil society in the formulation of portfolios, [Note217: Id.]
    • provide clearer guidelines regarding the availability of portfolio funding per topic, [Note218: Id. Agrell, interview.]
    • consider introducing open calls for proposals, [Note219: Agrell, interview.] and
    • increase the amount and detail of forward-looking information on openaid.se; [Note220: Stakeholder consultation, 22 Aug. 2017, Stockholm.]
  • Facilitate access to contacts: Improve information on who does what in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in civil society organisations working on aid development in order to facilitate dialogue and cooperation;

IRM End of Term Status Summary

3. Improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation

Commitment Text:

The commitment on improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation aims to increase knowledge and participation. Greater knowledge and involvement of more actors create better possibilities for accountability and promote fresh thinking. Increased transparency may also limit the scope for corruption and misuse of resources. The commitment will mainly be achieved through strengthening channels for dialogue and feedback on aid management and implementation with different parts of society.

Main activities:

·Promote independence and autonomy by working towards a favourable environment for civil society organisations, safeguarding their autonomy to carry out their own activities and promoting their role as collective voices and opinion makers. [No corresponding Milestone]

·Maintain a good dialogue by informing and consulting civil society at an early stage on upcoming strategies, key decisions or changes in Swedish development cooperation. [Milestone 3.1: Consult civil society ahead of overarching and key decisions on Swedish aid policy; Milestone 3.2: Create space for civil society to hold a dialogue and develop information exchange on various policy issues.]

·Promote quality in development cooperation by conducting continual evaluation and research on development cooperation, spread knowledge and work for increased aid and development efficiency and work for increased aid and development. [Milestone 3.5: Evaluations and research, and Milestone 3.6: Knowledge building to increase efficiency]

·Promote a long-term approach and sustainability in development cooperation by ensuring clear and long-term conditions for civil society organisations to pursue their activities. [No corresponding Milestone.]

· Take action to increase openness and transparency in development cooperation by (Milestone 3.4: Give civil society access to information):

oworking in these areas at bilateral, EU and multilateral level,

owhere relevant, giving civil society organisations access to contacts, information and knowledge in the area of development cooperation,

ostrengthening a free and open exchange of views on development cooperation

ocombating corruption within the framework of handling Swedish aid funds and setting requirements for and supporting cooperation partners’ effort to combat corruption

opromoting openness in relationships and the dialogue between the Government and civil society organisations

·Apply a diversity principle by promoting a variety of civil society organisations and showing new civil society actors openness and development cooperation methods. [Milestone 3.3: Diversity principle]

·Further develop procedures for managing reports of suspected corruption and other complaints that impact Swedish aid funds. [Milestone 3.8: Supporting cooperation partners’ anti-corruption efforts, and Milestone 3.9: Corruption reporting procedures]

Responsible institution: Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA)

Supporting institutions: The Government Offices, including missions abroad and relevant authorities that have an overarching responsibility for state-financed Swedish development cooperation.

Start date: 2015 End date: None for most milestones

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to (1) improve the quality of Swedish development aid and broaden opportunities for dialogue with CSOs (Milestones 3.1 to 3.6), (2) increase aid efficiency and effectiveness (Milestone 3.7), and (3) promote anti-corruption measures (Milestones 3.8 and 3.9). [Note68: The milestones of this Commitment are: 3.1. Create space for civil society to hold a dialogue and develop information exchange 3.2. Consult civil society on key decisions on Swedish aid policy 3.3. Apply a diversity principle 3.4. Give CSOs access to information 3.5 Conduct evaluations and research on development cooperation 3.6. Spread knowledge for increased aid and development efficiency 3.7 Work for increased aid development efficiency and effectiveness 3.8 Supporting cooperation partners’ effort to combat corruption 3.9 Develop procedures for managing corruption reports and complaints. ] Milestones 3.1 to 3.6 are mainly based on the “Joint Commitments between Swedish CSOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”. [Note69: The adopted Joint Commitments (in Swedish), http://www.regeringen.se/contentassets/756e79c7e6d14aca966ab95c85d8bc50/... The Joint Commitments seek to enhance dialogue and relations between the government and CSOs in Swedish development aid, and emphasize the important role of CSOs in development. Despite the laudable goals, several milestones were vaguely formulated and lacked means for verification. [Note70: The IRM researcher could not establish what the milestone aimed to achieve despite interviews with the relevant MFA officials. The interviewees stated that the MFA and Sida continuously monitor Swedish aid funds through organizational assessments of the multilateral development organizations funded by Sweden or through similar means. See the second IRM report.]

Status

Midterm: Limited

Given that only one milestone had a specific end date (2016 for Milestone 3.2), the IRM researcher could not assess whether the overall commitment was on schedule and considered the overall completion to be limited at the midterm.

During the first year of implementation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) held regular meetings and discussions with CSOs on key decisions related to Swedish aid policy. The MFA involved a large number of CSOs in the development of the Joint Commitments. However, there were some limitations in the diversity of the CSOs involved and some variance between individual CSOs’ roles in the process. According to one CSO participant, the MFA seemed to lack a structured approach for increasing the diversity of the involved CSOs. [Note71: Edvard Agrell (Secretary General of the Christian Democratic International Center), interview with IRM researcher, 8 September 2017. ] Information sharing between the government and CSOs generally worked well, although in some cases, this principle was unevenly applied across Swedish institutions abroad (e.g. embassies), where information sharing often depends on institutional capacity and resource availability. [Note72: Marina Berg (MFA) and Johanna Teague (MFA), interview with IRM researcher, 25 September 2017.]

The MFA also made progress on evaluation, aid efficiency and effectiveness (Milestones 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7). According to the MFA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has in recent years strengthened its evaluation function in terms of both staff and strategy. Sida regularly conducts in-house evaluations (approximately 50 per year) and publishes them on its website. [Note73: Frank Svensson (MFA), email to IRM researcher, 13 October 2017.] It also commissions independent evaluations assessing Sida-financed development cooperation. [Note74: Sida’s evaluation page, https://www.sida.se/English/how-we-work/evaluation/] During the first year of the action plan period, Sida published two strategic evaluations. [Note75: In the IRM evaluation period, two evaluations were published (both in 2016): “Evaluation of the extent to which Sida's contribution management system is fit for purpose” and “Evaluation of Sida’s Use of Guarantees for Market Development and Poverty Reduction.” Information verified on 25 August 2018, https://www.sida.se/Svenska/publikationer/publikationssok/?subject=%20Si... ]

Regarding Milestones 3.8 and 3.9, the MFA reported that Sida continuously supports interventions that reduce corruption in partner countries (e.g. through funding for anti-corruption agencies and parliamentary oversight) and has continued to develop its procedures for corruption risk assessment and the management of suspected corruption. For more information, see the 2016–2018 IRM midterm report. [Note76: OGP, Transparency in Aid Management, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/commitment/03-transparency-aid-manage... ]

End of term: Limited

The MFA made additional progress during the second year of the action plan, particularly on dialogue with CSOs (Milestones 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4) However, the lack of specific end dates or clear measurements of progress for most milestones make it difficult to assess the overall completion as higher than limited at the end of the action plan.

The government held its yearly CSO Forum on 16 February 2018, and included participants from civil society, government offices and the Swedish authorities. The Forum focused on strengthening collaboration between Swedish CSOs and foreign authorities in the field, and on further developing Swedish advocacy work within multilateral organizations. [Note77: The government’s yearly CSO Forum, https://www.regeringen.se/regeringens-politik/gemensamma-ataganden-for-i... ] Moreover, to enhance regular communication with CSOs, the Joint Commitments working group put together a contact list, which will also be used for invitations to aid-related events. The list is available online and CSOs can request to be added to the list by email. [Note78: The Joint Committee working group’s contact list is available online, https://www.regeringen.se/regeringens-politik/gemensamma-ataganden-for-i... ]

To improve efficiency of management and operations, Sida carried out evaluations on learning and accountability. [Note79: Evaluation at Sida, Annual Report 2017, https://www.sida.se/contentassets/3e7e493adecf40fcb23c7ec10b89d686/annua.... ] Sida implements three categories of evaluations: (1) partner-led, commissioned and managed by Sida’s cooperation partners; (2) decentralized, which are external evaluations for accountability purposes; and (3) strategic evaluations, decided by the Director General based on their strategic importance for Sida. In 2017, Sida published 33 decentralized evaluations commissioned by Sida units and foreign missions. [Note80: Evaluation at Sida – Annual Report 2017, https://www.sida.se/Svenska/publikationer/160433/evaluation-at-sida-annu... ] No additional strategic evaluations have been published since the IRM midterm review. [Note81: In the IRM midterm review period, two strategic evaluations were published (both in 2016): “Evaluation of the extent to which Sida's contribution management system is fit for purpose” and “Evaluation of Sida’s Use of Guarantees for Market Development and Poverty Reduction.” Information verified on 25 August 2018. https://www.sida.se/Svenska/publikationer/publikationssok/?subject=%20Si... ] In 2017, Sida also finalized an evaluation handbook with internal and external guidelines, and a manual for conducting Sida evaluations. [Note82: Evaluation at Sida, Annual Report 2017, https://www.sida.se/contentassets/3e7e493adecf40fcb23c7ec10b89d686/annua... Moreover, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Expert Group on Aid Studies (EBA), which is a government committee with the mandate to assess Sweden’s international development assistance, plays a key role for learning and transparency since it independently chooses what to evaluate. The EBA has strengthened its external communication activities (newsletter, podcast, and a new webpage) in 2018. [Note83: Anna Stina Svantesson (Utrikesdepartementet), kommentar till IRM-rapporten, februari 2019.]

According to Sida’s chief of staff, Sida is continuing to improve governance and control, and lessons learned from investigated corruption cases. [Note84: For example, Sweden has stopped the funding of the farmers' organization “Zambian Farmers National Union” (ZNFU) based on a corruption investigation. A suspicion of corruption at the ZNFU was reported by a whistle-blower in 2015. Sida then appointed two audits by two different accounting firms, and based on the outcome of the audits asked for recovery of the funds form ZNFU. The support from Sida to ZNFU is frozen from 2015. https://www.svt.se/opinion/joachim-beijmo-om-bistand ] Its latest corruption report shows that, in 2017, Sida received the highest amount of corruption notifications and carried out the highest number of investigations since 2007. [Note85: Sida corruption report, https://www.sida.se/English/publications/159911/sidas-hantering-av-korru... ]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Marginal

The implementation of this commitment has improved, albeit marginally, relations between the government and CSOs. Sida’s evaluations and the corruption reports published during the reporting period have somewhat increased access to information on development aid.

CSOs involved in development aid have generally given positive feedback towards the Joint Commitment. [Note86: An article by the Swedish Mission Council, an umbrella organization for churches and organizations on a Christian basis, who work with aid both in Sweden and internationally, https://www.missioncouncil.se/aktuellt/dialog-mellan-regeringen-och-civi... ] [Note87: An article by Forum Syd, a politically and religiously unaffiliated development cooperation organization with around 140 member organizations from Swedish civil society, https://www.forumsyd.org/sv/aktuellt/civilsamhallet-och-regeringen-stark... ] The 2018 CSO Forum attracted strong interest, with a high number of participants (circa 130 participants, mostly from civil society). [Note88: The 2018 CSO Forum, https://www.regeringen.se/regeringens-politik/gemensamma-ataganden-for-i... ] The Forum resulted in a number of recommendations for how cooperation can be strengthened, and an action plan for the follow-up of these recommendations has been developed together with the permanent working group for the Joint Commitments. [Note89: Sarah Eriksson (Ministry of foreign affairs), comment to the IRM report, December 2018.] The participants stressed that it is important for the government to work with CSOs in a more systematic and structured manner. Collaboration between government authorities abroad and civil society is often person-dependent, and institutional memory is in many cases insufficient to maintain valuable networking and skills considering the high rotation of staff based abroad. [Note90: The government must work with CSOs in a more structured manner, https://www.regeringen.se/496382/contentassets/4a58eec28f1d4503a11bfc146... ] The permanent working group on the Joint Commitments has met four times in 2018 but the last meeting notes published on the Joint Commitments webpage date back to March 2017. [Note91: Sarah Eriksson (Ministry of foreign affairs), comment to the IRM report, December 2018. The webpage of the Joint Commitment: https://www.regeringen.se/regeringens-politik/gemensamma-ataganden-for-i... ]

The fact that Sida received the highest amount of corruption notifications ever in 2017 [Note92: Sida corruption notifications 2017, https://www.sida.se/English/publications/159911/sidas-hantering-av-korru... ] could suggest that Sida is improving its capacity to detect cases of aid corruption, [Note93: Capacity to detect cases of corruption, https://www.sida.se/Svenska/aktuellt-och-press/Medieservice-och-presskon... ] or that corruption is on the rise. Sida considers that the large increase in reported cases is mainly due to a greater awareness of what and how to report by Sida's collaborating partners. [Note94: Reporting by Sida’s collaboration partners, https://www.sida.se/English/publications/159911/sidas-hantering-av-korru... ]

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing this report (September 2018), Sweden had not finalized its fourth action plan. To move the commitment forward, the IRM researcher recommends the following regarding the Joint Commitments (JC), based on suggestions from consulted civil society representatives:

·increase the diversity of participants, especially smaller CSOs, in the implementation of the JC; [Note95: Stakeholder consultation, 22 August 2017, Stockholm. ]

·facilitate access to contacts: Improve information on who does what in the MFA and in CSOs working on aid development; [Note96: Meeting notes, workshop during the annual civil society forum in February 2017, http://www.regeringen.se/49b881/contentassets/5c5ec6059051492099de637266.... The need to map Swedish CSOs that receive Swedish aid development funding was also emphasized by respondents to the MFA survey distributed among Swedish authorities abroad (see note 34). ]

·evaluate progress on the JC by the MFA and Sweden’s authorities based abroad; [Note97: Stakeholder consultation, Stockholm, 22 August 2017. ],

·enhance transparency of the work on the JC, in particular on the process of endorsement of the JC by CSOs and on the tasks of the JC working group; [Note98: Meeting notes, annual civil society forum, February 2017. ]

·raise awareness of the JC, e.g. by creating an online calendar listing different forums available for CSO participation;

·improve the monitoring of progress on Policy for Global Development (PGU) and Agenda 2030 by developing measurable indicators that would allow assessing both the actions taken at the policy level and the actual results of the work on PGU and Agenda 2030 in Sweden, also through the Sida-managed openaid.se portal; [Note99: Stakeholder consultation, Stockholm, 22 August 2017. ] and

·develop concrete and measurable action plans for the implementation of PGU and Agenda 2030 and make them publicly accessible in order to enable their monitoring. [Note100: Id. “CONCORD Sweden's recommendations for a constructive action plan for Agenda 2030 where Sweden is put into a global context” (”CONCORD Sveriges rekommendationer för en konstruktiv handlingsplan för Agenda 2030 där Sverige sätts i en global kontext”) (CONCORD Sweden, 18 April 2017), http://www.concord.se/wp-content/uploads/cs-rekommendatione-for-en-handl... [Note101: See the second IRM report.]

Moreover, the IRM researcher recommends making concrete commitments addressing corruption and other irregularities in aid. These could cover e.g. (i) support to advance the independence of the UN's Internal Audit and Ethics Office; [Note102: This was recommended by the UN investigation of the whistleblowing case about sexual abuse of children by UN peacekeepers. This recommendation is also supported in a statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, who suggested that the entire UN system should enhance its efforts against exploitation in the field and stressed the need to ensure that perpetrators are punished. 'Statement by Foreign Minister Margot Wallström on the report of the Independent Investigation Panel on suspected abuse in the Central African Republic' (Government Offices, 19 December 2015), http://www.regeringen.se/uttalanden/2015/12/uttalande-av-utrikesminister... ] and (ii) involvement of civil society in discussions with international donor organizations when deciding priorities on transparency and anti-corruption work. [Note103: See the second IRM report.] The special agreements on the exchange of information in the form of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with some multilateral organizations, which Sida is planning to implement, could be a good opportunity for involving CSOs.


Sweden's Commitments

  1. Starred commitment citizen-centered e-government

    SE0013, 2016, Environment and Climate

  2. Re-use of public administration documents and open data

    SE0014, 2016, Land & Spatial Planning

  3. transparency in aid management

    SE0015, 2016, Aid

  4. Developing a new format for dialogue with CSOs

    SE0016, 2016, Public Participation

  5. Putting citizens at the centre (eGovernment) of government administration reforms

    SE0008, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  6. A step further on the re-use of public administration documents

    SE0009, 2014, Capacity Building

  7. Increased access to Swedish aid information

    SE0010, 2014, Aid

  8. Improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation

    SE0011, 2014, Aid

  9. Increased aid transparency at global level

    SE0012, 2014, Aid

  10. Continuing the development of the Openaid.se platform

    SE0001, 2012, Aid

  11. Ensuring full implementation of the IATI standard by 2015

    SE0002, 2012, Aid

  12. Implementing the commitments in the Busan Partnership document

    SE0003, 2012, Aid

  13. Playing a leading role in the Building Block on Transparency

    SE0004, 2012, Capacity Building

  14. Contributing to further define the work towards an EU Transparency Guarantee

    SE0005, 2012, Capacity Building

  15. Engaging in the Open Aid Partnership and promoting ICT4D

    SE0006, 2012, Aid

  16. Broadening open government commitments

    SE0007, 2012, OGP