The mess that is DFAT’s aid website

A while ago, I complained that all the project pages had been taken down from DFAT’s aid website. Now some are back, but in a special archived section of the website. You can find some out-of-date PNG ones here (following a link to proposed expenditure for 2013-14!), but we couldn’t find any Indonesian ones anywhere, even out-of-date ones.

It’s a mess. Bits and pieces of the website are left lying around. Should the PNG homepage still be telling us about proposed expenditures for 2013-14? Is 2011-12 the best we can do for Pacific regional expenditures? The latest lot of ‘Results‘ for PNG are from 2012. Has nothing happened since? Indonesia gives ‘Commitments’ for 2012-13, but no idea of whether those long-expired commitments have been met or not: its latest ‘Results’ are for 2011-12.

My complaint used to be about a lack of transparency, but now it’s about a more fundamental lack of organisation.

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Stephen Howes

Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre and Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University.


  • I couldn’t agree more with the current mess of the DFAT website. To add to this, I gather that DFAT is trying to stop the aid-funded projects setting up their own websites. Up until now, even though DFAT’s own website has been increasingly bad at providing information, there have been some good and informative project sites managed by the managing contractors on which reports and news updates are available. If it is true that these are now being discouraged, it is a serious concern and major step backwards for transparency in the aid program.

  • Why aren’t the people, who were responsible for the AusAid updates, still doing this work? Isn’t it the same people who were in AusAid, now DFAT employees, who are responsible for feeding this information in? Is there a restructure going on by DFAT (former DFAT) employees? Why is this happening. This doesn’t explain the cause?

  • This does the Department no favours in selling the merits of integrating the aid program into Australia’s broader diplomacy efforts, particularly when not even the good news stories are available to the public.

    Rather, it adds further weight to the negative perceptions held by many about the changes to what used to be AusAID.

  • Thanks Stephen. It is not at all user-friendly.

    To add to your criticism of the website, the news section of it is barely ever updated now. One piece of news so far in August, none in July, two in June. For comparison, we can see from the archives that former AusAID posted 19 news stories in June 2013, 37 in July 2013 and four in August 2013. And that’s not even counting the content on the former AusAID Engage blog, which has died since integration.

    The current DFAT website is not telling the Australian public anything useful or clear about what the aid program is actually doing, whether one is looking for up-to-date project information or feelgood press releases.

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