TAI Weekly

TAI Weekly | November 6, 2018
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  • Incorporated by algorithm: who’s in control?
  • Where am I? State of fiscal transparency and accountability
  • The missing middle – media and social accountability
  • Which way to go? How to position INGOs
  • TAI Spotlight: From transparency accountability coalition to finding your story

In case you missed it…

Incorporated by algorithm: who’s in control?Photo: Pixabay

How is the rise of new technologies impacting the world of company formation and the rule of law? OpenCorporates explores the potential for algorithms creating ever more complex corporate networks with firms that may only exist for single transactions.  How would anyone adequately govern such entities? Time to start bracing for both the positives and negatives.

Speaking of positives, while it is still a relatively small subset of government decision makers embracing algorithms, many are at least using data in their decision making. 50 European municipal government reps recently met in Chișinău to compare notes on ways to improve public spending using open government tools. Their emphasis on the use of official datasets, such as procurement awards, might be matched with citizen-generated data on performance. To that end, Jane Lawrence Sumner, Emily M. Farris, and Mirya R. Holman offer guidance on crowdsourcing reliable local data (using the example of political data.)

Meanwhile, Daniel Berliner and Kendra Dupuy dig into data applications for anti-corruption efforts ranging from pinpointing irregularities to assessing the impact of particular interventions. The points they raise on barriers to data use – not least “credibility, clarity, and complexity” of data – match well with TAI’s own deep dive in Nigeria.

Finally, check out a selection of analyses and articles about open data, curated by Figshare. One takeaway – open data is becoming more entrenched in the research community.


Where am I? State of fiscal transparency and accountability

TAI joined a refreshingly global crowd exploring the intersection of human capital, public finance and social accountability for the #GPSAForum in Washington, DC. Most discussions highlighted remaining needs for fiscal transparency and proved a suitable backdrop to release Anja Rudiger’s stocktaking of where the fiscal transparency and accountability field stands – an input to a scenarios process led by the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace and International Budget Partnership and TAI. Stay tuned for four different visions of what we could be dealing with in 2030.

Citizen engagement and empowerment were most heard phrases at the #GPSAForum but with a more explicit focus on helping open up civic space. Vanessa Malila details a strong case for moving beyond ‘accounts-ability’ and re-imagining more participatory models of democracy that are citizens centered. Meanwhile, PEKKA, a grassroots Indonesian women organization, explained ways to build collective power and voice. Check out key lessons from their accountability strategies (with thanks to Accountability Research Center).


The missing middle – media and social accountability

Another thread at GPSA was the suggestion of a missing middle between media development and social accountability. First takeaway on that front? The scale of the need for capacity building and skill development around investigative journalism to increase reporting on accountability issues. Let’s borrow from ICIJ’s timely 14 recommendations on how to go about it. The second takeaway? The importance of rebuilding trust around the channels of communication. How do we go about it? A recent paper published by Ushahidi advocates for information verification and authentication by a trusted agent. Meanwhile, Sean Ndlovu looks back at trying to stem misinformation during Zimbabwe’s election earlier this year. On election day in the United States, fears rise that mis and disinformation are outpacing any attempts of containment – Anne Applebaum calls for politicians to more seriously take control of “information anarchy.”

Technology has always been a double-edged sword in the fight against corruption. How do we ensure it does not serve as an enabler of corruption? Manasseh Azure Awuni argues for joint effort and effective coordination between developers of anti-corruption apps, journalists, and civil society groups. Amanda Sperber picks up on the globalized nature of corruption – detailing how progress to fight corruption in Africa, say, cannot be achieved without a complete transformation of the global systems.

At least there might be signs of chasing those global enablers. The US has charged former Goldman Sachs bankers for their role in the alleged theft of billions of dollars from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. The bank itself is not in the dock, but it might make employees think twice about transactions. More might even embrace shared digital platforms for money laundering checks as suggested by Deloitte and TheCityUk report.

Essential Listening 

Bruegel senior fellow Nicolas Véron joins Sean Gibson to deep dive into how to better the European Union anti-money laundering (AML) regime, a paper he co-wrote with Joshua Kirschenbaum. Listen Now!



Which way to go? How to position INGOs

Talking of big brother’s role. What are the right roles for international NGOs? How do they ensure they remain relevant and continue to add value? Gina Lagomarsino emphasizes the importance of knowledge brokering and coaching in supporting partners in developing countries.

Wondering how to assess the capacity and commitment of a country to autonomy and how to fit your programmes to be more helpful. David Jacobstein explores USAID’s approach of using incentives and applying context driven adaptation. This could be emulated by other donors. You might also want to consider the social return on investment (SROI) approach that would capture outcomes such as self-confidence or empowerment that are typically hard to capture.

Ever read this Weekly and got frustrated at the jargon? We share your pain, but sometimes it is hard to avoid terms that carry a shorthand. It would certainly be hard to write without resorting to any of the words on Duncan Green’s dev speak abominations long list. Over 600 have now voted – read an analysis of the poll results. No surprise at the winners, but for what it’s worth, we’d love to get rid of “transformative” …

Long read of the week

Improving Tax and Development Outcomes: What Next for Civil Society Engagement? – Wilson Prichard

This TAI latest brief outlines the appropriate focus for civil society campaigning around taxation, capacity roles and challenges for effective engagement and work on tax issues.




TAI spotlight

Financial Transparency Coalition | Luminate Group

Luminate Group explains why they gave a grant of $850,000 to FTC towards their work of limiting the drainage of public funds due to illicit outflows.

Philanthropy’s role in a shifting global order | Ford Foundation

Darren Walker explores how philanthropy can support and encourage a new, more inclusive global order despite the changing times.

Nonprofits turning to feedback from groups least heard | Hewlett Foundation

Sharon Jayson examines the importance of feedback from clients for effective philanthropy.

Storytelling: Finding Your Story and Your Strategy: TAI and Hub workshop

The TAI team joined a workshop on “Storytelling: Finding Your Story and Your Strategy.” We compared notes on strategies for better storytelling to clearly demonstrate organizational impact and to grow and engage audiences. The workshop drew from recommendations from our own The Story Behind the Story report. Check it out!Photo: TAI

Calls: Proposals, papers, speakers and course invites

On the calendar