TAI Weekly

TAI Weekly | Measure, evaluate, but do we learn?
Print Page

October 13, 2020



Measure, evaluate, but do we learn?
Photo via  William Iven on Unsplash
As TAI gears up to publish our new Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Plan aligned to our new strategy, we were excited to see Publish What You Pay’s MEL framework and the baseline data collected to structure the 2020 survey of National Coalition Coordinators. The surveys are used to promote strong network response to civic space threats and to track contributions to change.

At least there was some positive news on the civic space threat this week. After six months, three members of Publish What You Pay Niger were finally released on bail although their charges are still to be dropped. Here’s hoping we are not set for more rights violations in Papua New Guinea where no less than 10 UN special rapporteurs have flagged concerns over a new gold, silver and copper mine with the potential to be one of the largest in the world.

Across the Pacific, both Chinese and Peruvian NGOs underscore the need for greater understanding of social and environmental norms for Chinese firms investing in Latin America. Zhang Jingjing from China Accountability Project, who said that leaders of Chinese companies must know the social and environmental risks before investments are made.
Meanwhile, a new Transparency International report recommends ways for the Central African Forest Initiative to improve transparency and protect its projects from corruption, including publishing memoranda of understanding with development partners.


Beware a vacuum

Of course, rule of law issues are a concern worldwide. Interesting to see the European Court of Justice affirm that the Hungarian government’s legislation that was used to drive out the Central European University violates EU law. Harder now for EU partners to turn a blind eye to Hungarian transgressions? David Jackson explores the need to understand how transitions to integrity and anti-corruption actually happen.

Concerns over police accountability are still pressing politically around the globe – interesting to read a take from Hong Kong this week, while in Nigeria the federal government took the step of disbanding a special unit after widespread protests at its brutality and violations, although many are demanding more accountability for those involved.

What about governance in areas where the law has yet to catch up? James Kynge and Liu dig into governance of new tech and China’s hard push to shape the international rules of the game to be conducive to Chinese firms and their state surveillance model.

Speaking of the law catching up (or not) to fast moving practice, after three years of digging the UK Information Commissioners Office found that Cambridge Analytica did not violate any data protections in influencing the Brexit vote. If no rules were broken, many point to the need to improve data regulations.


Scandal to reform – will this time be different?

Sticking with regulatory gaps, Jeff Salway details how Wirecard’s collapse reveals shortcomings in oversight of fast expanding digital payment services.

Tonu Basu at OGP describes several mechanisms OGP members can do to respond to the FinCEN leaks – chief among them are promoting corporate accountability and implementing reforms to end anonymous companies. To that end, good to see the British Virgin Islands respond to pressure and finally commit to make public beneficial ownership information for those who control companies by 2023.

Of course, prospects for a US federal beneficial ownership register remain in limbo until after the US election, but what about prospects for legislating tax transparency? Watch the FACT Coalition event discussing the growing US and international demand for corporate tax disclosures. H.R. 5933 would require companies publicly disclose high level financial data (how much money they park in tax havens) on a country by country basis – data that is already shared with authorities.

Every penny matters as countries struggle to fund COVID-19 responses and recovery, so more revenue authorities may be excited to work with Tax Inspectors Without Borders – in its latest annual report they claim to have helped countries successfully raise $537m in revenue that wouldn’t have otherwise been collected.

Singing the COVID blues

Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash

OGP is partnering with supreme audit institutions and amplifying the demands of civil society organizations to ensure COVID-19 response funds are being mobilized for their intended purpose. This strategy is consistent with the findings of Marcos Mendiburu’s recent study emphasizing that collaboration with CSOs and citizens is paramount to successful external audit processes in order to mitigate power dynamics and boost participation and accountability.

Sadly, there is no shortage of need for such oversight. In the UK, the government curated coronavirus loan scheme designed to assist small businesses has been exploited by criminals – fraudulent loan applications made up 2.3% of the approved claims lent by banks, worth billions of pounds.

Existing funds are unlikely to be enough as the World Bank estimates the pandemic will push 150 million people into extreme poverty by the end of 2021, erasing three years of progress. Many of those newly affected are in middle income urban settings and are educated. Will they be aggressive in demanding government accountability?

Will international institutions retain credibility for their response? Eurodad are critical of IMF actions to date which they fear will lead to a “lost decade” for developing countries, while U.S. lawmakers have raised concerns about the financial viability of the World Bank’s fund for poorest countries if piling debt means countries cannot repay loans.

On a side note, good to see the Filippino business press picking up on the issue of fiscal transparency, as Department of Budget and Management Secretary Wendel E. Avisado touted Philippine’s top ranking in Southeast Asia and ninth globally in the latest Open Budget Survey.


Essential watching

Building Back Better Through Civil Society: Watch this Devex session from last week (supported by TAI) discussing how funders can more effectively support civil society, including at grassroots level, for their survival and to play vital roles in responding to today’s global crises

Filling an impact gap

Photo by Nadir sYzYgY on UnsplashJasmine Taylor, board member of the NGO Free Minds offers advice on improving racial justice advocacy by listening and seeking out “thought leaders in this field who may not be as well known to the general public but who actually know the community you’re working in and how to best serve those members.” Good food for thought as TAI member Hewlett Foundation is recruiting a Chief of Equity and Culture to design, promote, and implement racial equity initiatives across the foundation’s operations.Staying with funder decision-making side, Alex Forrester of Rising Tide Capital, advocates for flexible funding and tracking outcomes over line-item budgets, encouraging grantees to spend with impact in mind rather than spending to meet budget allocations. For his part, Jake Levy from the impact investment firm Snowball, worries that there is still no consistent framework for fund managers to measure and assess the impact of an investment and offers pointers how to fill that gap.That mindset might expand to those fund managers sitting on pools of charitable donations. Soophia Ansari at Global Giving explains everything you need to know about Donor Advised Funds. Let’s hope such funds look beyond the usual suspects and consider ways to support those working at grassroots level in all contexts – Elbert Garcia gives insight into the value of funding these organizations through the example of Siembra NC.

TAI Spotlight: The Social Investor 2020

The Social Investor 2020 | Chandler Foundation
Chandler Foundation launches their 2020 edition of the Social Investor magazine – “equal parts Vanity Fair and Foreign Affairs” and includes an interview with Matt Damon and Gary White – founders of Water.org.The Imperative of Moral Leadership | Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation President Darren Walker writes on the imperative of moral leadership, and how it can get the United States and the world past this incredibly dark and difficult time.2020 MacArthur Fellows | MacArthur Foundation
The MacArthur Foundation released the names of its 2020 Genius Grant winners, from social scientists, playwrights, and chemists, to composers and artists. We are very excited to see Nanfu Wang recognized for creating intimate character studies that examine the impact of authoritarian governance, corruption, and lack of accountability on the lives of individuals.Open Society to Increase Commitment to Global COVID-19 Response | Open Society Foundations
OSF has announced a further $70m in global investments for immediate relief to COVID and to push back on government consolidation of political freedoms. This brings their commitment to $200m. 
Job listings

Associate Program Officer at the Hague for International IDEA – Deadline October 18
Government Affairs Senior Policy Advisor, International Financial Institutions at Oxfam – Ongoing
Director of Development and Solidarity Philanthropy at Grassroots International – Ongoing
Senior Communications Coordinator at Grassroots International – Ongoing
Data Architect at Open Data Institute – Ongoing
Luminate Director, Africa – Ongoing
Communications officer at ICTD – Ongoing
Job postings at Ford Foundation – Ongoing


Digital Freedom Fund Virtual Litigation Retreat – October 16, 2020
Governance and the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Global South, EGAP – December 15, 2020 Deadline
Call for submissions to SSIR Series: Social change in an era of extreme polarization – Last Thursday of every month until early 2021
USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) grant funding – Ongoing
BetterTogether Challenge for innovators – Ongoing
Call for research proposals: Tax and civil society [No Deadline]
Free Digital Security Training – Ongoing
Open Road Alliance Charitable Grant and Loan to organizations responding directly to COVID-19 – Ongoing
Pulitzer Center Coronavirus news collaboration challenge – Applications will be reviewed on a first-come, rolling basis
Call for proposals: Informality, tax, and the state – Proposals accepted on a rolling basis


Please double-check the websites for these events to make sure they are still happening – many are subject to change due to the spread of coronavirus.

Building Resilient Subnational Data Use, Development Gateway – October 15 (Online)
Financing a Global Public Health Response, Center for Global Development – October 16 (Online)
OpenGov Digital Youth Summit – October 27th and 28th 2020 (Online)
Humanitarian and Development Data Forum – November 2-4, 2020 (Chambery, France)
Open Data Institute Summit – November 10 (online)
International Civil Society Center – Global Perspectives Experience – November 2-5, (12 pm-12am, Online)
Digital Freedom Fund Virtual Litigation Retreat November 12-18, 2020 (excluding weekend)
World Forum for Democracy (democracy and the environment) – November 16-18, 2020
(Strasbourg, France)
Transparency International: 19th International Anti-Corruption Conference – December 1-4, 2020 (online)
International Open Data Conference –(Postponed till 2021)