Private sector transparency


Aiddata .org provides over 1 million data points of information on aid flows from a large range of donors, creating an unprecedented level of transparency about international aid.  The information covers most official aid bodies (e.g. DFID, USAID, et al) and the latest version (3.0) also includes data on private charity organizations in the US and flow of remittances.  The data can be downloaded in full or visualized online.  There is also a robust API system to build apps on top of the rich database. Based on a quick review of the datasets, I feel that it would be a […]

Aiddata.org: Open data for international development


Gates Foundation in collaboration with other organizations are building a unique identifier for philanthropic organizations across the globe.  The project is called BRIDGE (Basic Registry of Identified Global Entities).  The hope of the project is to collate information from millions of sources so as to create greater information sharing and to enhance transparency of the philanthropic sector. This interview with Victor Vrana of the Gates Foundation provides details on the ambitions of the project and how it came about.

Many organizations respond simultaneously during humanitarian crises and coordination between them is a challenge.  The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is working on information management practices for sharing and accessing information.  One component of this effort is to develop a standard vocabulary – the Humanitarian eXchange Language (HXL).  More information on the initiative can be found in the project website.


To realize the full potential of technology for transparency, we need a legal guidelines on how public data could be used. Open licensing can also have radical implications for transparency in public-private-partnerships.

Copyright and the right to information


The Open Contracting Partnership is working on a set of data standards for information on public procurement.  OCP explains the need for standards as: Governments around the world spend an estimated US $9.5 trillion every year through contracts. Yet in most countries, information about these contracts is unavailable for public scrutiny, rendering the contracting process vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. This project aims to enhance and promote disclosure and participation in public contracting by creating a simple, machine-readable and easy-to-understand open data standard. The draft document on the data standards for procurement is available for public comments and comments will be reviewed after Sept 30, […]

The INGO Accountability Charter is a commitment of international NGOs to a high standard of transparency, accountability and effectiveness.  The Charter provides the only global, fully comprehensive and cross-sectoral accountability framework for NGOs driven by NGOs. The Charter defines standards on areas of NGOs’ work, such as governance, programme effectiveness and fundraising.  International NGOs that become members of the Charter are required to report annually on fulfilling these commitments using a reporting tool developed for the purpose.  The charter outlines 10 “Accountability commitments” viz: Respect for human rights, independence, transparency, good governance, responsible advocacy, participation, diversity/inclusion, environmental responsibility, ethical fundraising […]


The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) was formed out of a meeting on aid effectiveness held at Accra in 2009.In it, the donors agreed to public information regularly on funding, associated conditionalities and 3-5 year projection of funding. The reports are hosted by the donors in structured XML files in their own websites with a link to the IATI registry at http://www.iatiregistry.org/. I did a quick review of the information on the registry.  The database allowed me to filter files by organization, country and an assortment of other criteria.  Most of the data was provided at the aggregate level on the total funds allotted to […]

The accidental NGO and USAID transparency test: Till Bruckner writes about his effort to get information on project budgets for USAID funded NGOs in Georgia.  Here is his note on the experience: The documents are disappointingly full of blacked-out non-information. The level of disclosure varies drastically from one document to the next. Some budgets are provided in full, while others appear as blacked-out row upon row. In three cases, USAID even withheld the identity of the contractor itself. USAID explained this inconsistency saying that it was legally required to contact each grantee to give it “the opportunity to address how […]

Global Reporting Initiative has created a framework for corporations to report information on the economic, social and environmental impact of their day-to-day activities.  GRI provides standards of reporting and thousands of companies are producing ‘sustainability reports’ on the basis of their guidelines.


Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is a multilateral, multi-stakeholder initiative to bring more transparency into extractive industries such as oil, mining and gas.  The initiative recognizes that natural resources belong to people and the public revenue raised from them should reach the people.  The focus of the initiative has been on ensuring that companies disclose tax payments and governments do the same in terms of taxes they receive from companies.

XBRL India is the Indian arm of XBRL International, the international body for developing XBRL Standards for business and financial information, which is being adopted by regulators across the world.  XBRL India provides links to useful regulations and related events.

XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is a set of standards for reporting financial and business information in a way that machines can read the reports, compare and analyze them easily.  It presents a set of standardized vocabulary so that similar information can be presented using similar language by different companies.  Recognizing that one standard set of concepts may not cover every possible situation, the system allows national regulators and even individual companies to create terms that are useful for their unique situations (this ability to eXtend the vocabulary is represented “X” of XBRL). A short video introducing […]

XBRL for private sector transparency





LittleSis is a free database detailing the connections between powerful people and organizations.  The name is a play on ‘big brother’ which stands for the monitoring of common people by the powerful.  Little Sis does the opposite by monitoring those in positions of power. This is a project of Public Accountability Initiative and it tracks key relationships among politicians, business leaders, lobbyists, financiers, and their affiliated institutions. It helps answer questions such as: “Who do the wealthiest Americans donate their money to? Where did White House officials work before they were appointed? Which lobbyists are married to politicians, and who do they lobby for?” […]


A just order – The Hindu: Discusses the Supreme Court order on evergreening the patent for Gilvec and makes the argument for opening up corporate accounts when it comes to protecting patents.




CorpWatch: investigates and exposes corporate violations of human rights, environmental crimes, fraud and corruption around the world. We work to foster global justice, independent media activism and democratic control over corporations.

They Rule: A social network graph that aims to visualize the relationships between corporate leaders and politicians i.e. the ruling class. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors.