CGD in the News

Follow the Money (The Economist)

November 29, 2012

Senior fellow and director for Europe Owen Barder is quoted in a blog by The Economist on DfID's plan to increase transparency.

From the article:

BRITAIN'S Department for International Development (DfID) is widely regarded as a trend-setter in the aid business. Now it's new head, Justine Greening, wants to make the country's aid-giving more transparent.

In a manifesto published in the Guardian, Ms Greening outlined her plans for the agency. The most significant part of Ms Greening’s strategy is the requirement that any organisation receiving DfID funds publish clear information about where the money is going.

The transparency requirement, which will be phased in over an unspecified time period, appears to mean that NGOs, private contractors and possibly even governments that receive DfID funds would have to publicly disclose how they spend the money. Currently, said Mr Barder, it is nearly impossible for anybody to figure out what aid money is actually being spent on.

The new initiative could really make governments and aid agencies accountable, said Mr Barder. “The idea that you can follow the money is a game changer.” By contrast, he notes, foreign-aid spending from America is divided between more than two dozen agencies and is virtually impossible to track. “Nobody across the system currently knows how much is going anywhere. At the moment it is a complete mess”, he said. “Whether you are an aid enthusiast or an aid skeptic, transparency is effective.”

Read it here.