What did we miss? TAI strategy – absent ≠unimportant
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How is TAI’s new strategy resonating with those who actively work on transparency and accountability? Much of the feedback since the launch last month has been appreciative of the new website and focused on the headline elements of the strategy – attesting to the value of the priority issues of data use for accountability, international tax, strengthening civic space and smarter grant making.

Fewer have dug deep into the full strategy (perhaps due to its rather daunting length), but we hope more will.  We want to know what we missed, what seems off target or how you see the strategy relating to your own priorities and work.

We hope you might follow the lead of Nathaniel Heller, Vice President at Results for Development, whose blog offers a really thoughtful appraisal of what we missed. Read his points in full – they usefully raise questions relevant to the field as a whole.

It has me pondering if something is not prominent in the joint TAI member strategy, is it unimportant? I’d argue that the answer is often no – they can be very important, but perhaps not best addressed through TAI. For example, I can attest that TAI member donors think a lot on how to support organizational health of grantees, but responses are particular to each funder set up. Of course, that doesn’t mean comparing notes through TAI is not helpful – and we certainly hope to make progress on testing ways to reduce burdens for grantees, such as through shared reporting.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are another case in point.  As Nathaniel notes, there is only a headline reference to the SDGs in the TAI strategy, but they are obviously critical to shaping development efforts. TAI members funded efforts that helped shape the SDGs, and Goal 16, in particular. Do they walk away now? No – most funding aligns to the SDGs and some are currently scoping ways to directly support implementation of Goal 16, but the value add of TAI facilitated collective action at this point was not as clear, especially as it is already a priority for other platforms and networks, such as OECD’s GovNet. Hence the decision to focus on more thematic specific priorities, which should in turn help contribute to progress toward the SDGs. For example, funding that should help achieve 16.6 on building effective, accountable and transparent institutions or tax work contributing to 16.4 and 17.1.

The TAI priorities reflect those areas where the members believe collaboration is necessary and outcomes have a potential field-wide relevance, triangulated against each member’s thematic interests. Are they the right ones to boost the impact of transparency and accountability funding? Time will tell.

In the meantime, please share your thoughts.  What surprises you in the strategy? What would you have liked to see? We mean to live true to our commitment to learn and be “adaptive” – strategy implementation will be all the better for sharp critique!