TAI Weekly

TAI Weekly | May 15, 2018
Print Page


  • Why and how do corrupt leaders maintain their popularity? Harvard Law panel explains the paradox
  • Viktor Orban’s 3rd win spells bad news for Hungary’s media
  • New reports on how the donor community and the OGP can address closing civic space
  • Second generation open contracting commitments
  • Money laundering in the digital world
  • Review of DFID’s value for money approach

In case you missed it

Corruption leads to populism, and so do anti-corruption rhetoric, but why and how do corrupt leaders maintain their popularity? Professor Matthew Stephenson of Harvard Law School attempts to explain this paradox. “Why doesn’t this behavior alienate supporters of the populist movement more? One hypothesis is that the rhetoric of corruption wasn’t really what they were appealing to; it was more a code word for ‘Defeat cosmopolitan snobs taking your jobs.’ Another possibility is that even though voters don’t like corruption, they dislike moralists even more.” Though how does this square with governments falling due to corruption protests at an unprecedented rate? Clearly, there is a breaking point – but what can societies do? Stephenson and company suggest a more enlightened movement of the people might be the best antidote (see video below). 


Could this explain the declining human rights and increased media attacks in populist regimes? In Tanzania, NGOs wrote to President Magufuli over laws that undermine human rights, including freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Atilla Mong documents Viktor Orban’s eight-year war against independent media in Hungary. The Publish What You Pay international board met this week with an empty chair as Ali Idrissa remains held by the Niger government for protesting against a new finance law.  Even the Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice is not spared. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom President Rodrigo Duterte tagged as his “enemy”, has been removed through a ruling which, critiques argue, is unconstitutional. Joy Aceron explains the dangerous implications of this on accountability efforts.

And more bad news for the media. In Myanmar, two detained Reuters journalists investigating the murder of Rohingyas, have been framed by local police, a witness claims. Fake news rhetoric is increasingly taking on ominous real-world consequences – for example, in the Gambia where the Supreme Court upheld a controversial law on false news (anticipate similar legislation elsewhere). Any bright spots?  Maybe Uzbekistan, which just released its last detained journalists.

Last week we featured Samuel Moyn’s article on the risk of the human rights movement of being too niche and failing to connect to inequality. Ignacio Saiz responds with a call for a more nuanced assessment of the movement’s effectiveness in addressing economic inequality. What could the transparency and accountability community say if faced with the same charge?

How can the donor community respond to closing civic space? The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) recommends seven ways from clearly articulating support for civil society across development and policy statements to involving the private sector. These recommendations add a layer of detail to complement this framework for closing space grant making and complement our upcoming compendium of resources on grantee challenges and funder responses around closing civic space (coming out soon!).

The ICNL recommendations talk to the potential of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to expand civic space. The OGP espouses civil society engagement as key to effective public policy reform. However, OGP action plans are unlikely to address the most pressing problems civil society actors face. So, what to do? OGP is proposing five action points.

Our number of the week? 25. There are 25 different ways that the donor community can support social movements, according to Solome Lemma. Elsewhere, the 2018 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey is out. Explore the data of almost 3,400 nonprofits in the US. Which ones resonate? How can third-party feedback help funders improve their practice?  Hayden Couvillion shares the impact of the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s Donor Perception Report.

Eight years ago DFID placed the Value for Money approach at the heart of its work. Did they get it right? Cathy Shutt and Craig Valters argue that while it improved efficiency in delivery, the approach did not necessarily result to effectiveness of the interventions. The authors argue that the business as usual approach is inadequate to address complex problems. Is it time to scrap the value for money approach altogether?

The OpenGov Hub was a hive of activity for the first #OpenGovWeek but events took place around the globe. What percolated through to us? The OGP released a participation and co-creation toolkit as well as a set of ideas for second generation open contracting commitments. The Open Contracting Partnership shares the results of their data hack scrutinizing access and use of contracting information in the UK.  Oxfam International released the findings of its review of contract disclosure policies of 40 oil, gas and mining companies. Their analysis shows that while corporate support for contract disclosure is advancing, this has not translated to concrete policies within many of the companies surveyed. Meanwhile, the Engine Room dives deep on the potential of collaborative monitoring of Politically Exposed Persons or PEPs (those who have access to state funds and are prone to abuse of power). 

Curious about the state of open government in Mexico? Check out how it performed against the OECD recommendations. What about the US? Researchers at the OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism conclude the country is regressing on its open government commitments.

What is data leadership and how can it improve public services? Edafe Onherhime of 360Giving explains. Their new project brings together grantmaking organizations and public-sector staff for a Data Leadership program.  

For our weekly roundup of tax stories, the debate continues – should tax avoidance by multinational corporations be considered illicit? We’ve featured the debate in the past Weekly, but Sol Piciotto expounds his arguments with Maya Forstater lending her anticipated response. An in-depth investigation claims billionaire philanthropist Mortimer Sackler to be a “tax avoider on industrial scale”. Will tax cuts boost corporate philanthropy donations?  US companies agree but Alex Daniels says there are reasons to be skeptic.

Murdered journalist Daphne Galizia’s initial inquiries into Malta’s online gambling industry has led to an in-depth investigation on how the country’s lucrative online gambling companies have been used by the Italian mafia to launder money. Transparency International breaks down why the US and Canada are behind the UK and the EU on the beneficial ownership transparency front. Finally, Alexon Bell explains the different ways that the digital world can facilitate money laundering, but is quick to add that the solutions are also digital.

Podcast of the week: Staying Curious, Together: How to Create a Learning Culture

Listen to USAID as they share how they do collaboration, learning, and adaptation

Long read of the week:

Local governance, Decentralisation and anti-corruption in Bangladesh and Nigeria

Using case studies in Bangladesh and Nigeria, the report looks at the links between decentralized governance and corruption and the implications on anti-corruption work at the local level

Help us make TAI Weekly a more useful and fun read to you by answering this quick survey. It only takes a minute (we promise), plus we added a cute surprise at the end of the survey.  Click here to take the survey.

TAI spotlight

Four decades and $500 million in 240 impact investments after, MacArthur Foundation shares four lessons that guide their work

Hewlett Foundation seeks proposals from African policy research organizations working to advance evidence-informed policymaking in the region

  • TAI-CEGA Evidence Watch: Information Control in the Digital Age

TAI and CEGA kick off the Evidence Watch series with a discussion on research and grantmaking priorities on information control in the digital age (see Margaret Roberts’ book Fear, Friction, and Flooding: Methods of Online Information Control). Evidence Watch is a series of webinar events designed to support the integration of rigorous research into the strategies and activities of funders and grant-making groups.

Read our blog!

Understanding Philanthropic Funding on Tax
By Qi Hang Chen and Lauren Keevill

TAI members are committed to being clear on what they fund in relation to international tax and why. The motivations, linkages and funding details are now spelled out in one dedicated site. So how can you best take advantage of it? Here we provide some practical pointers on how best to dig into the content, built around the four main sections of our Tax and Taxation Governance webpage.

Other stories

Leveling the Platform: Real Transparency for Paid Messages on Facebook

Facebook promised to make all its ads public. Upturn claims the plans fall short, and provides three steps for the tech giant to enable full transparency 

Announcing the Data for Youth Services Collaborative (DYSC) in Côte d’Ivoire

Development Gateway shares plan about on strengthening the data ecosystem and engaging the youth in Code d’Ivoire

Eni Past or Current Staff Under Investigation in Republic of Congo Corruption Probe Rises to Four Out of Five

Updates on the investigation of Italian oil giant Eni over corruption charges

What to Do If a Grant Maker Won’t Call You Back

Five steps for grantees to open up communication when you don’t hear back from funders

[Canada’s] Ongoing Transition to Digital Government

The Government of Canada shares its plans to address challenges that accompany its transition to digital government

Your Favorite Websites are Rallying in a Last-ditch Effort to Save Net Neutrality

Websites including Etsy, Reddit and OKCupid displays “red alerts” on pages, asking readers to reach out to decisionmakers to save net neutrality