TAI Weekly

TAI WEEKLY | Yes, big brother is watching 👀
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  • Yes, big brother is watching
  • Preparing for the next one
  • Integrity motivators
  • Assumptions tested
  • Cypro busted
  • Going commando (lifting funder restrictions)
  • TAI Spotlight


 Yes, big brother is watching

Image Source: Amidon Marketing

We know the pandemic has been a cover for growing restrictions on and surveillance of civil society. However, it is still shocking to read the extent to which governments around the world are using spyware, courtesy of the Pegasus Project collective investigative reporting. Activists, journalists, legal defenders are at risk. Expect a growth industry in forensic phone checking.

Meantime, Cuba is the latest to fall back on the authoritarian playbook by shutting down the internet amid anti-government protests.

On a more hopeful note, a start-up, Remesh, has built an AI-assisted poll that can engage over 1,000 people in real-time conversations around changes they want to see. It has been used successfully in Libya to ask people’s priorities in rebuilding the country. Potential to adapt for participatory budgeting?

Staying at the intersection of participation and technology, Tiago Peixoto offers a tentative framework for putting trust in government, while Benjamin Bradlow draws on Sao Paulo experiences to highlight how the “embeddedness” of the local state in civil society affects the effectiveness of distribution of public goods.

Given recent attempts to politicize Nigeria’s electoral body, Samuel Itodo writes on the need to depoliticize election management bodies. In the U.S., controversy swirls as Toyota is listed among firms making large donations to legislators with policy records some critique as anti-democratic. Open Government Partnership (OGP) and The Good Lobby offer pathways to improving governance and accountability in the ethics of relation between corporations and public officials.


TPA Full Disclosure: Andrew Wainer on why transparency and accountability matter in policymaking

Andrew Wainer, the Director of policy research for Save the Children USA, always had an interest in how the world works. As a kid, rather than light fare, he remembers reading about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and devouring the Autobiography of Malcolm X.  This interest was reinforced by his father, who was an avid international traveler. We spoke with Andrew on the relevance of transparency, participation, and accountability (TPA) tools to policy research and advocacy and how policymakers, donor organizations, and CSOs can work together to put evidence to practice.


Preparing for the next one

We’ve been reading the recommendations of the G20 High Level Independent Panel on future pandemic preparedness and were pleasantly surprised to see a clear focus on reforming global health governance. Amanda Glassman urges that any new pandemic preparedness fund be created under a strong transparency and accountability framework – yes!

What of recovery from this pandemic? As Gro Harlem Brundtland urges world leaders to ensure that COVID-19 recovery efforts do not overlook the poor and marginalized, Paolo de Renzio argues for a need to have consistent global accountability standards for how countries are managing COVID relief.

As countries build back, high-value Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investment infrastructure contracts are being adopted to fill vital infrastructure needs — but they come with risks. Charlotte Broyd shares key lessons from Honduras’s experience in applying transparency, participation, and accountability to PPP projects, leading to institutional reform and savings. Taking things further, CoST launched an open-source repository in Indonesia and Honduras to heighten PPP transparency.

Inspiration, too, from an open contracting platform that has helped Buenos Aires implement a US$3.5 billion public works plan, improve internal efficiency, and access to information right down to their local neighborhood. Looking globally, the World Bank trials a Procurement Anticorruption and Transparency Platform compiling data on anti-corruption and transparency in public procurement.


Integrity motivators

Turning to local service delivery, what makes duty-bearers act with integrity? Integrity Action offers ten answers report and successful strategies for resolving public service delivery issues identified by citizens. The research draws on data from Kenya, Nepal, Palestine, and Afghanistan and an interactive quiz built using an “interactive fiction” tool. 

Datasketch released an Open Government for Dummies series of explainers (here’s one example), while the OGP shares the first set of Action Plan Reviews on eight countries assessing the design and implementation of OGP commitments offering targeted recommendations and sharing knowledge essential for effective reform.

To strengthen the potential of extractive governance legal frameworks to address gender equality and achieve gender transformative change, Aubrey Menard and Elizabeth Moses detail recommendations for countries as they draft OGP commitments.

The one-clear policy position of Peru’s president in waiting was to raise taxes on mining companies, so interesting to read Chloe Schalit, Supriya Sadagopan, and Mario Picon assess the management of mining revenues in Peru.

EITI launched its flagship EITI Progress Report 2021, but civil society representatives failed to match Engine Room in disrupting Exxon board seats – in this case, Exxon’s seat on the EITI board. They were left disappointed that consensus was not reached to terminate the firm’s membership following a Publish What You Pay complaint.

Vijaya Ramachandran explains the negative impacts of climate colonialism, arguing against unequal financing limits on fossil fuel energy projects. A tech start-up is now helping quantify climate risk of assets for institutional investors – with the help of A.I., of course!

Tom Brookes offers lessons from a decade plus in the climate movement. He urges that: “While the elite decisionmakers hold the cards on policy to mitigate impacts, so empowering an inclusive, just and equitable society to cope with them when they arrive will be every bit as important if we want human civilization to not just survive, but flourish.”


Primary vs Secondary

The Open Data Institute (ODI) has produced a short white paper detailing results of their initial look into policies around the E.U.’s use of primary data for secondary purposes, such as research and development of new therapies or personalized care. 

For aid transparency geeks, good news that the U.S. State Department and USAID plan to consolidate their respective aid transparency platforms. 


Crypto busted

Photo Source: Cryptoage

As part of a broader Chinese authority clamp down on crypto, Hong Kong customs bust a cryptocurrency money laundering racket – 60% of which had been funneled through offshore accounts in Singapore.

Lebanon has its own ongoing money laundering scandal, and Walid El Houri laments that the Lebanese still have neither a government nor accountability.

Maureen Kariuki, Karabo Rajuili, and Edwin Warden says sustaining momentum and accelerating the implementation of beneficial ownership disclosure will remain key in regional efforts to tackle corporate secrecy in Africa.


Going commando (lifting funder restrictions)

Many nonprofits are seeking to build resilience into their funding given losses brought by the pandemic. Should this include opportunities for nonprofits to harness the capital market?

Pamela Wiepking is leading an academic team to investigate the effects of unrestricted funds through their new Center for Grantmaking Research. And, in an interview with Badr Jafar, Acumen founder, and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz talks about the benefits of unrestricted investments as part of her entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy. 

The Firelight Foundation details an outline for philanthropists to center community-based organizations in their work, while Lehn M. Benjamin urges bringing beneficiaries to the center of management and leadership not as passive recipients but as active participants who engage with NGO’s. 

At Fund for Shared Insight, leaders are using a DEI lens as they teach social sector orgs to use feedback loops that center the voices of beneficiaries in programming, and Angela Kail takes an honest look at their journey to bring diversity, equity and inclusion to the core of strategic analysis. 

For nonprofits seeking to up their monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) game, Tina Pasanen and Pablo Yanguas suggest owning the commitment to change before hiring outside consultants. (A useful read as TAI looks to hire a MEL consultant 😊)


Other stories


TAI Spotlight

Ford Foundation launched a $250million Justice and Mobility Fund with two other leading philanthropies to boost economic mobility and strengthen the life trajectories of people involved with the criminal justice system. 

Hewlett Foundation’s cyber talent pipeline evaluation provides a map of interdisciplinary cyber programs at American universities—public and private, Cyber Initiative grantees and non-grantees—while identifying the barriers to the formation and success of such programs.

Open Society Foundations examines the opportunities and limits of approaches intended to hold platforms like Google and Facebook to account for practice that focus on profits and cause harm to the digital public sphere.


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