Thanks to a new tool, we now have oversight of the extractive data that is being disclosed systematically – and where.
When institutions and companies are open about what they do, it is easier for citizens to hold them accountable.
That is why a key feature of the EITI’s work in recent years has been to encourage governments and companies to “systematically disclose” information – in other words, to publish data themselves using their own systems, at source. Management systems are a key element of good governance, and errors or missing information in government or company reporting can reveal systemic weaknesses in a way that third party reporting cannot.
First introduced in 2018, the shift of “mainstreaming” data aims to make transparency an integral part of how governments and companies operate. It enables citizens and decision makers to easily access, use and analyse information. It also allows for timelier disclosures and presents an opportunity for EITI stakeholders to focus on strengths and weaknesses of systems, as well as areas of disclosure that matter most to citizens.
Fast-forward three years. How are countries progressing in this shift? To answer this, we are developing a new tool to track how much data is systematically disclosed by countries, and where. While still in its early stages, the tool draws on data from 25 countries who have already reported what information is systematically disclosed.
To date, 25% of EITI data is systematically disclosed. Norway tops the charts with 92% of EITI data disclosed at source, mainly reported through its online government platform norkspetroleum.no. And with nearly half of its EITI data disclosed systematically, Afghanistan has demonstrated the fastest improvements from one year to the next, having recently launched a government transparency portal.
A number of countries have also focused their efforts on specific areas. For example, over the last few years, Nigeria has improved its oversight of licensing data, of which 91% was systematically disclosed in 2018.
Nonetheless, most countries still rely on EITI Reports as the main medium to publish data required by the EITI Standard. As reported by 25 countries for 2017 and 2018, 58% of the required data is still disclosed through EITI Reports. Almost one fifth of EITI-required data is not public. In Myanmar, where there are not many disclosures at source, 85% of data is disclosed through EITI Reports. This means that EITI process is paramount for bringing greater transparency to the country’s extractive sector. Nonetheless, there is great potential for Myanmar‘s government agencies’ to improve their regular disclosure practices.
While our tool gives an indication of where countries stand, it also has a number of caveats. The data we have relies on the quality of data submitted by countries. EITI only performs in-depth assessments through Validation. The submissions are made using a standardised template which may not capture partial progress, nuances or context-specific information. In other words, the category “systematically disclosed” only applies to instances where all information pertaining to an EITI requirement is published at source. Furthermore, the tool draws on data from 2017 and 2018, meaning that recent progress towards systematic transparency may not be reflected.
While the findings to date are encouraging, it is still too early to draw conclusions and provide recommendations. But the tool now makes it possible to monitor the trends and gaps of systematic transparency. With more countries expected to submit 2017 - 2019 data in the coming months, the tool can provide a baseline for discussion and debate. We encourage all interested parties to scrutinise and question the data, and to share any findings with us.