The Treasury Department has new data on its website on where and how it spent $23 million in FY2012 technical assistance, and it’s available in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) format, too. This is cool. And USAID is set to publish an update to the US Foreign Assistance Dashboard later this week. Perhaps other US government agencies will follow suit?
What’s to like about Treasury’s new data?
First-mover. To my knowledge, Treasury is the first US government agency to offer new data in an IATI format on its own website and it’s evidence that they are taking open government and the added value of the IATI format seriously.
More open data. It’s a credit to the 2012 OMB guidance and the work of the US Foreign Assistance Dashboard team that we’re seeing more open aid data across the US government and that some centralized reporting through the Dashboard isn’t limiting what agencies can and should share (an issue I raised when the OMB guidance came out in October 2012).
Competition. My hope is that continued public attention—and praise—for the agencies that share their data through the Dashboard and independently will spur healthy competition among the twenty-some different US agencies that have a role in foreign aid to get the data up and out, and move increasingly towards even more raw, open foreign assistance data.
USAID’s expected update to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard later this week could be another sizable addition to the Dashboard and IATI. Both sets of new data—from Treasury and USAID—are important steps towards the Obama administration’s “open aid” efforts and staff at the agencies and the Dashboard deserve credit. Publish What You Fund might deserve some credit too as they produce an annual Aid Transparency Index, ranking bilateral and multilateral agencies, and their deadline for the 2013 data happens to be tomorrow. (Beyond the US, the African Development Bank announced that it too is publishing data in the IATI standard.)
One has to wonder whether any other US agencies—especially the smaller entirely development-focused ones like Peace Corps, Millennium Challenge Corporation, African Development Foundation, US Trade and Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation—are gearing up for data releases this week, too. My fingers are crossed.