This is part of the formal proposal that makes up the second iteration of the Version 2.01 Upgrade process.
IATI organisation identifier methodology splits identifiers into two parts: a registration agency and a registration identifier. IATI maintains (and continues to build) a code list of registration agencies. The registration identifier is issued and maintained by the agency.To standardise identifiers derived from OECD DAC donor, agency and channel of delivery codes it is proposed that:
- The OECD DAC is recognised as a registration agency with code XM-DAC.
- (All agencies are prefixed with ISO country codes: the XM indicates a multilateral/international agency)
- DAC donor codes should be adopted.
- IATI at the outset substituted DAC donor codes with ISO country codes. This should be corrected.
- The government of the United Kingdom (as a donor) is currently represented as "GB". This should now change to XM-DAC-12
- DAC agency codes should be modified to be consistent with donor codes.
- UK DFID is currently referenced in IATI as "GB-1". This should now change to XM-DAC-12-1
- DAC delivery channel codes should be prefixed with the DAC agency code.
- UNDP is currently referenced in IATI as "41114". This should now change to XM-DAC-41114
- for discussion go to http://support.iatistandard.org/entries/41042267-Modify-DAC-derived-organisation-identifiers
- We have mapped existing organisation identifiers that will need to change in version 2.01 against a set of proposed new identifiers. - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11TiOakHaaTI1mcK7aMg-0T9QLdH9CbAXllUHi4i1nSU/edit#gid=0
For technical details about implementing this proposal go to: https://github.com/IATI/IATI-Extra-Documentation/issues/67
Are we suggesting that people who don't currently use a DAC identifier, should use DAC rather than a different registration agency?
No, we are not.
Many organisations have valid identifiers from more than one registration agency. There has been discussion (in corridors only) about IATI specifying an order in which agencies should be used, but this has never been agreed or proposed.
The example I gave is in the spreadsheet of proposed new identifiers. Should it be removed?
Would this mean that from 2.01 onwards ALL iati identifiers on the activity level would also have to be changed (e.g. from GB-1-xxxxx to XM-DAC-12-1-xxxx)?
Unfortunately it's even more complicated than that:
For traceability chains to remain unbroken users of third party organisation and activity identifiers should ideally change them at the same time as the third party does.
We understand this is not great, but we believe the pain is worth the gain. We will also maintain a public cross-mapping table.
Because we already have more than 260 IATI publishers publishing in 1.x format, it will mean that the transition period most likely will be multiple years, since every publisher has it's own pace in their IT change cycle. In this timeperiod, it will be virtually impossible to implement tracebility chains.
Tracebility though is one of the corderstones and big added values of IATI. The current practice is that linking IATI activities already is quite a challenge. Having two coexisting identification systems at the samen time will add a horrendous complexity.
Will the benifits will outweigh the advantages? Possibly this change could be a showstopper for the usability of IATI data in the next years, so there must be huge advantages when making this drastical change. Maybe we should only do this, when NOT making the change, will threaten the long term succes of IATI. What is the opinion of other publishers on this?
There are 116 publishers using /transaction/provider-org/@provider-activity-id - see http://email@example.com
I don't have an exact figure, but the majority of these are using Aidstream - which will be able to do a search and replace on all their accounts at the appropriate moment.
I totally agree with Hermann. I don't believe that the perceived benefit of using a standardised organisation identifier convention outweighs the disruption to the data publishers who are using organisation and activity identifiers to link activities across organisational boundaries. The time taken to propagate the change through DFID and all our downstream publishers would mean that any applications (including DevTracker) built on the traceability model would break until all publishers had fixed and republished their data.
I also don't see the benefit in adding meaning to a code. Having XX-XXX-nn-nnnn should not convey any meaning, it is purely a convention to allow organisations to develop unique(ish) codes. As Hermann says, we already have a unique coding system for major DAC donors, so let's keep with that.
I don't yet understand what benefit there would be to migrating to a common code convention when we already have unique identifiers for those organisations.
Following on from the correspondence above, it would be useful to have a list of the pros and cons of this proposal so Steering Committee members can take a more informed decision on whether the benefits outweigh the risks and costs involved.
Hi John and Herman. I am on leave at the moment and I understand that discussions have been taking place offline with our technical team on this issue. There are many practical issues that I would like to raise in defence of this proposal, which I will do on my return, but I would like to put on record now where I think this issue sits within a bigger context.
The data revolution is emerging as a key vehicle for post 2015 development strategies. It's objective is to improve, harness, combine and transform all relevant data into coherent, usable information for decision-making globally, nationally and sub-nationally. IATI is one of many systems and standards which needs to throw its weight behind this drive for joined up and interoperable data.
For this to work we need to work together with other systems and standards to create a common language for data from different sources to be aligned and compared: global data standards.
These standards may be relatively simple (formats for dates), supposedly simple (definition of supranational regions) or complex (sector definitions).
IATI's position has always been that, wherever possible, it should adopt existing standards, and work with other standards bodies or authorities to improve global compatibility so that different systems can talk to each other. For example, our country, language and currency codes are controlled by ISO authority lists; our region codes allow for two authority lists (OECD DAC and UN).
There is no global standard for uniquely identifying organisations. This is a major problem and is likely to become an even bigger one. OpenCorporates led the way in developing a methodology for identifying private sector entities, and IATI has adopted this for both private sector and NGOs: most of these entities are registered with one or more registration agency who issue and record (publicly or privately) unique identifiers - by keeping an authority list of the registration agencies (currently owned by IATI in the absence of any broader body willing to take it on) we can construct globally unique and meaningful identifiers for all registered institutions. This approach has a very low overhead and is agnostic to the application in which it is to be used. As such it is a likely candidate for the emerging openContracting standard and for any future work on budgeting and spending standards.
There is currently no agreement (and, to be honest, little interest) for extending this methodology to public entities. How, for example, can we define the Rwandan Ministry of Health in a machine readable format that could be understood (or at least cross-mapped) by different systems? This is a serious problem that needs a solution and IATI has, and should continue to, engage with others in efforts to solve it.
It looks unlikely that a global institution is about to pop up from out of the blue and create a whole new system of identifiers. Our best bet is to continue with the existing methodology and look to federated authority lists that may cover a single country, region, or multilateral framework. It is for this reason that we are proposing to recognise the OECD DAC code lists for donors, donor agencies and channels of delivery as a single authority list providing reliable and meaningful identification of a particular subset of agencies.
When we drafted the IATI standard we had not thought through the importance of authority lists in maintaining the integrity of codes, identifiers and definitions. We also saw the world very much through the lens of traditional donors and DAC reporters. So we created an 'IATI' list of organisation identifiers derived (but different) from the DAC with no provenance and no controls. One "non-rule" for DAC reporters and a proper rule for everyone else. This was wrong as it didn't reflect the multi stakeholder nature of IATI and it did not create a foundation on which a sustainable standard can be built. What up until now has been a minor flaw will, in ten years time, become a nightmare.
Hi Bill. Thanks for your eleborate answer during your leave. I still do not understand why it is nessesary to change the existing identifiers of all DAC reporters and why it will cause a nightmare in ten years time. Can you please elaborate on that topic a little bit more?
The IATI list of DAC reporting organisations seems to be manageble (it has currently 420 entries).This list is for a major part an adoptation of the existing DAC identifiers for bilateral donors and multilateral organisations. So the current list is for a very large part already DAC compliant. IATI can follow the DAC using the currently existing scheme, without changing all the identifiers which are already in use. Maybe only a few inconsistent codes need to be resolved if you want keep in sync with the DAC.
The proposed change will not solve the problem of the large volume of public entities which are not DAC members. So if I am not mistaken the broader issue of the identification of public entities in general is not solved by this change. Also the problem remains of organisations on the IATI list for which there is no counterpart on the current DAC list. How will those organisations in the new identification scheme be represented? Is the DAC willing to fulfill the role as defining authority for those organisations? Or will there be an exception for those organisations?
A. Regarding the adoption of a standard methodology
B. Regarding the adoption of XM-DAC and the changing of 'NL-1' to 'XM-DAC-7-1'
C. Regarding the practicalities of such a change
Thanks Bill for your eleborate answer. The main objections are against point A.8 and C.1&2:
Why would there be any harm in leaving the organisation identifiers allready being issued in place? Just use the new methodology for new organisations not already on the IATI list. So this list will not grow anymore. The only problem is that in the long run a fixed part of the list does not fully comply with the new standard. This will in my opinion not lead to any practical problems.
Adopting this migration approach would avoid having two identification schemes at the same time during the transition period. The length of the transition period would be depending on the time the IATI publishers using these identifiers need to upgrade to 2.01. Because of the huge change 2.01 represents, this will probably be a lengty period. During the transition time, it will be more difficult then it already is for IATI publishers to 'link up the chain'.
I hope that linking up the chain will in the near future will not be limited to UK and the Netherlands, because enabling chain transperancy is in my opnion one of the most important reasons why we have IATI. Any obstacle linking data across organisation boundaries should if possible be avoided. Therefore I am reluctant to agree with this proposal. I am still not convinced the benefits outhweigh the costs.
I have no strong opinion on this. A system of self-registration, as John suggested, could also work. We do that right now for IATI publishers already. Self-registration would have the big advantage of having no need of governing bodies. Self-registration could just assign a meaningless unique identification number to an organisation. I just wonder if the fact that for a number of organisations there is no clear governing body (e.g. government organisations, local NGO's in some development countries), does make a self-registration system necessary anyhow. With self-registration you could even connect the meaningless identifier also to other 'official' identifiers. It would be up to the registering organisation.
What we are ctrying to create is a world wide system for organisation identifiers under control of governing bodies. Is this feasible? Is this needed for IATI to be succesfull? But if the IATI community thinks so, I have no objections to the proposed scheme, as long as it is limited to new cases.
I've been following the discussions above and am still struggling to understand the overall benefits of this proposal. I agree with Herman and John that it does not seem to solve the problem of the large number of public entities which are not DAC members. It also sounds as if it will be heavily disruptive, and if DFID and NL are the only two publishers currently using traceability and there are enough things to work out already, we don't want to make their (and others') lives harder.
I would like to propose that we continue to use the existing IATI codelist and structure until a more robust methodology has been established (including issues such as how to deal with Ministries in partner countries, donor agencies not on DAC lists like EC-FPI, etc.). Once we have that new methodology, we will have the pain of transition to a new methodology, but it doesn't seem sensible to suffer that pain twice. Can we not stick with the present approach::
1) Is the code on the IATI codelists?
2) If not, is it structured in line with the IATI methodology?
It would be useful to establish a working group to look into this, including participants from other initiatives. In particular, it would be good to explore John’s suggestion of a system of self-registration.
Interested to hear what others think about the idea of setting up a working group.
I would like to see whether we now can reach a consensus to move forward - specifically for the 2.01 upgrade.
(Discussion on this thread has moved on to the technical mailing list here - https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/iati-technical/pjXkBP5Mef4 - so I am going to post this in both places.)
The issue is not directly related to the changing of DAC 'codes', but specifically to how we validate organisation and activity identifiers.
So, the actual changes required to the 2.01 proposal are (in Strengthening the Core of the Standard) the removal of two lines (struck through), and the addition of one (underlined) - as below
IATI activity identifier