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Increased Access to Data and Information Lifts World Bank’s Transparency Rating

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  • U.K.-based Publish What You Fund rates the World Bank as the highest-performing donor on aid transparency.
  • Study rates donors on overall commitment to aid transparency and provision of aid information to recipient governments and civil society organizations.
  • As part of a broad push toward transparency, the Bank recently instituted a new Access to Information policy and launched Aidflows, a web-based tool to provide easy access to aid data.

October 28, 2010—The World Bank ranked as the highest-performing donor among 30 major donors in a new study on aid transparency by U.K.-based Publish What You Fund, a coalition of civil society organizations working on governance, aid effectiveness, and access to information.

The study, released October 26, scored the Bank at 85.4%-more than double the lowest transparency score of 41.9%.  The average transparency score among all donors was 60.8%.

The Publish What You Fund Aid Transparency Assessment 2010 is the first detailed, comparative stock-taking of current levels of aid transparency, according to the organization founded by InterAction in the United States and Concord in Europe, and financed by the Open Society Institute and Hewlett Foundation.

The study rated donors on their overall commitment to aid transparency, and the extent to which they provide aid information to recipient governments and civil society organizations. The World Bank was “well above average” in nearly all indicators and received the highest score of all donors for availability of specific aid information and aid reported on budget.

Bank Widens Access to Information

The Bank recently instituted a number of information-sharing policies and initiatives. The new Access to Information policy, launched in July 2010, opens up access to all information unless specifically excepted for privacy of personal or financial security reasons.

Last spring, the Bank began opening its storehouse of data to outside researchers, partnering with Google and others to make it easier to visualize and increasingly available in multiple languages.

This month, the Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development introduced a new web-based tool, Aidflows. The new website was launched in response to the growing need for simple and easy access to aid data, said Axel van Trotsenburg, the World Bank Vice President responsible for both Aidflows and for IDA, the Bank’s fund for the poorest.

The tool allows users to visualize how much development aid is provided and received around the world. Users can select individual donor countries (providing the aid) and beneficiary countries (receiving the aid) to track the sources and uses of aid funding. The site also allows users to filter commitments and disbursements by year, including for IDA.

“Good information is essential to good decision-making,” said van Trotsenburg. “There is increasing demand for simple and easy access to aid data, showing how much funding is being provided by donor countries, where these funds are going, and how the money is being used.  While there is already much information out there, a consolidated picture of aid flows by country is hard to find. Aidflows is one more measure of the Bank’s commitment to transparency and results.”

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