The SDC assigns great importance to the principle of transparency in its activities. It favours internal and external studies for analysis of results and learning from experience. It adheres to applicable international standards in respect of aid transparency.
Transparency, a fundamental value of the SDC
Transparency is an essential aspect of Switzerland's international development cooperation activities and is a fundamental value of the SDC. Transparency makes it possible:
- for citizens, Parliament and civil society stakeholders to gain better knowledge of how funds are used and what results are obtained from cooperation programmes and projects, and to understand how these resources contribute to sustainable global development with the aim of reducing poverty and global risks;
- for governments of partner countries and civil society stakeholders to more effectively manage aid resources by incorporating them into their own development strategies;
- for donors and development organisations to better coordinate their efforts and enhance their effectiveness;
- to limit the risk of corruption, reinforce partners' ownership and encourage mutual accountability.
The Federal Council Dispatch to Parliament on Switzerland’s International Cooperation in 2013–2016, which contains the strategy for operational implementation of activities, assigns a great deal of importance to the cross-cutting theme of good governance, with special emphasis on transparency and accountability as well as participation, effectiveness and non-discrimination.
In its exchanges of information with the governments and civil society stakeholders of partner countries on programmes and projects, including financial planning, the SDC applies the principle of transparency and in turn requires its partners to make a similar commitment.
Culture of transparency
The SDC supports institutional learning by being open to dialogue with the different stakeholders in international cooperation, encouraging mutual exchanges and designing programmes and projects based on lessons learned from experience, thereby helping to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its programmes. Evaluations, studies and annual reports furnish the means to examine results and learn from past experience. In a transparent fashion, the SDC carefully analyses the strengths and weaknesses of its programmes and projects and implements the conclusions and recommendations submitted to it.
The SDC promotes a culture of transparency both within the institution and vis-à-vis the outside world. It has a long tradition of openness and communication, whether in the form of public events, annual conferences or discussions on its annual reports.
The SDC is always ready to provide information to the media and to respond to correspondence from the public.
Statistical reportings to the OECD
The SDC strives to continually improve the quality of its statistical statements at the international level by means of the Creditor Reporting System of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)
The SDC is a member of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), which brings together over 200 donors, partner countries and civil society organisations. Its members publish online a compilation of recent, comparable and rapidly accessible data and information by means of a central global registry. Since November 2013, an XML (machine-readable “mark-up” language) data file has been regularly updated and published in accordance with IATI standards.
Common standard for development aid information
At the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (Busan 2011), Switzerland joined the entire donor community in undertaking to improve the availability and accessibility of information on development cooperation.
To this end, the SDC has published its implementation schedule up to 2015 for the common standard negotiated at Busan for electronic publication of detailed information on development aid projects and programmes. The standard was established based on the complementary reporting systems of the OECD DAC and the IATI.
The central SDC website and the sites of the cooperation offices and representations in the partner countries present extensive information on priority themes, strategies, programmes and projects and on the SDC's global operations.
For the past few years the SDC has been more systematic in adjusting its activities to the measuring of the results and has regularly published online annual reports, reports on effectiveness and the evaluations it conducts.
External and internal evaluations and external studies have been published on the federal web portal since 2010.
The SDC has intensified its efforts to place detailed and standardised information on project funding and execution online. All SDC projects have been collected in a database since July 2014.
Swiss official development assistance statistics
Statistics on use of funds from the SDC, SECO and other federal offices and municipalities constituting Switzerland’s official development assistance (ODA) are available online in the form of regularly updated tables and charts.
Access to official documents
Like the rest of the federal administration, the SDC is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA), which entered into force on 1 July 2006. The law grants any citizen the right to inspect official documents and to obtain information from the authorities without the need to state a reason for the request. The requests must be processed within 20 days.