Dear IATI-Community,

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) has published a Request for Proposals (RfP) to provide an online IATI data publishing tool.

The publishing tool will enable organisations to publish their data on development and humanitarian activities according to the IATI Standard and convert their files into the XML format required to make the data machine-readable.

Currently IATI does not provide its own publishing tool, and organisations rely on a range of external tools to publish their data or build their own bespoke systems.

The new IATI publishing tool will be free to use and should be simple, intuitive and aligned with the IATI schema and rulesets so there is as little confusion as possible for publishers. It should also make use of the IATI Validator and check the data before publication.

Please see the United Nations Global Marketplace website for all details and note the deadline has been extended until 25 October 2021 to submit a proposal.

Comments (7)


Hi - can the supporting report mentioned in the RfP be shared?

I am worried about the signal this sends to the community e.g. that if anyone invests to make a product that supports the IATI ecosystem and then introduces charges (noting that aidstream does not charge for up to 20 activities) then IATI will launch a free competitor. I think there needs to be a shared statement first of what the community is supplying, where IATI thinks the gaps are, and then to give the community a chance to adapt and fill those gaps before decides IATI monopolises the space. I suspect this solution would be far cheaper in the long-run - the cost to persuade aidstream and similar tools e.g. from D4D and CoVE to add validator integration etc would be far smaller than the cost of IATI developing another new tool. If this kills aidstream - which has been a great product for many users - and surely they cannot be expected to host/run it for free - then the 'cost' of this investment is much much higher than just the development cost.

I think there is a major cost not factored in here e.g. that running a publishing tool has huge support costs to help users - I guess that is why aidstream needed to charge - will IATI be hiring more analysts to take this on - that will be a large long-term expense currently outsourced to 'the community'.

It strikes me as strange, that given all the procurement and management of outsourced development process difficulties expressed in the last 3 years, that the answer here is to launch another big procurement, allowing development in a language that IATI may not already support, not hosted on the new IATI Azure setup, and without a plan past the first year of hosting.....this seems to be counter to many of the lessons that we have been learning - it would be good to at least see the pro/con list for those decisions.

Finally, it would be good to be clearer on the intent - recent discussions have suggested that the main data/publishing gains are found by working with a small number of big publishers/donors - who do not use these type of systems - this system would support more tiny publishers (who mainly publish a few static/non-updated projects because a donor forces them to) - but given that most analysis e.g. the work done by DI on realtime-analysis, the Country data tool, most research papers etc - all these tools immediately drop/exclude all small NGO data (it is mainly double/triple counting), then this big investment will have little beneficial impact for many of the major use cases? Again, the cost/benefit of this investment may be far worse than indicated.

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  • S. Vaessen

    I fully agree with Matt's comments.

    I hope it is not the objective for IATI to monopolise this specific space, but its actions seem to show that it does - at least anything related to software services.

    As we spent a somewhat painful process to get Datastore V2 out, Zimmerman as one of the providers of data tools in the IATI space has never been able to pick up on some of the remaining issues that needed to be addressed as per technical review, which I am happy to share to anyone interested. There was 0 cost benefit analysis performed by the IATI Secretariat seemingly had no interest in continuing to have us fix the output from the technical review.

    I believe something similar happened to Data4Development upon delivering the Validator and I expect a similar incident to will occur if some technical party now wins this RfP, builds the basic, then gets the sack and the IATI Secretariat is called into the rescue as if the actual technical provider was not able to fix it themselves at a lower cost onboarding another developer on the IATI Secretariat. This way conscious communication disruption and an inability by the IATI Secretariat to work with technical parties seems like a strategy itself:

    (1) public RfP,
    (2) work with a technical party,
    (3) do not offer technical party the option to fix issues
    (4) IATI Technical Team takes over.

    Not only is this not a very effective way of cooperation nor is this very transparent. How much would the costs have been if the Technical party had fixed the issues vs how much is the IATI Secretariat spending on in-housing the software?

    Perhaps a lesson is learnt, but I’d be hard pressed to see any changes on how this RfP is handled. I’d expect some technical parties to respond, one of them building it and in the end IATI building out the rest? Next to Aidstream, the AIDA Platform will also be offering a very identical tool as part of AIDA in Q1-2021, which will allow organisations to publish IATI compliant data that will be synced to the IATI Registry etc. etc.

    I am still mesmerised as to why no actual efforts have ever has been undertaken by the IATI Secretariat to unify a set of organisations that have been supplying all sorts of IATI data tools over the last decade.

    From where we stand it looks we will have 3 versions of "Aidstream" early Q2022:

    (1) Aidstream
    (2) AIDAStream (working title)
    (3) IATI PD (Publishing Tool?)

    Why, one wonders...

    No benefits, just a complete waste of managing resources imo.

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  • Melinda Cuzner

    Thank you for your reflections, Matt. But Aidstream, D4D and CoVE can bid and thus get economic support to further develop their tool (according to a specification brought forward from an in-depth consultation and analysis) and make it available to a wider user group. It would not follow good practice to give the money directly to any of the existing products without going through a proper procurement procedure.

    I think you will find that the secretariat has greatly improved their procurement processes with NFRs etc. I trust it will lead to a well integrated solution.

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  • S. Vaessen

    The procurement process would have been greatly improved if framework agreements were made with some of the IATI technical suppliers in the IATI space that develop, service and manage these tools in a much wider space that just IATI. That way it would have been much easier to prototype and learn rather than to be actually stuck in very strict RfP environment. I honestly fail to see how this will be any different.

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  • Gyan Mahadew

    Respectfully, trust is maybe the main concern for professional participants in this space. If the true goal is to increase transparency, we should engage in an open dialogue and (at least try to) align common interests regarding advancing the IATI standard. As Siem, and Matt, our door is always open to continue the conversation.

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  • matmaxgeds

    [~567] - in case not seen - please can you share the underlying report mentioned - without this it is extremely difficult for the community to engage as we may not be aware of all the facts

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