TAI Weekly | October 23, 2018
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  • Corruption: this generation’s defining issue?
  • Fête the number geeks
  • Data run wild?
  • Know your illicit from your illegal
  • Odds and ends
  • TAI Spotlight: We ilLuminate member thinking

In case you missed it…

Corruption: this generation’s defining issue?

Panel mania at #18IACC

TAI is in Copenhagen with 1200 others at the International Anti-Corruption Conference (follow the discussion threads at #18IACC.) Lots of discussion of the need for collective action as outlined by Delia Ferreira, Mari Kiviniemi, Sanjay Pradhan, and Ulla Tørnæs, and calls to convert promises to action, not least among the G20. Alex Konanykhin argues we can take better advantage of technology and public-private partnerships to deliver on transparency.

Somewhat surprising, is the lack of discussion here of the recent wave of populist anti-corruption movements and what it means for the anti-corruption community.  That might concern Isabel Cane, lead for the World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption Initiative who asks if corruption is this generation’s defining issue?

Given the location, there is IACC talk of Nordic models and the high correlation between social trust and low corruption. What to do in the opposite context? Bo Rothstein details the dangers of countries falling into a trust trap whereby distrust, corruption, and inequality reinforce each other. Maybe we should reinforce Robtel Neajai Pailey’s passion and start training our children to be social justice agents from a young age.


Fête the number geeks

Over in Dubai, the development data crowd are gathered at the UN World Data Forum. We imagine Hetan Shah’s Financial Times article may be doing the rounds flagging the increasingly high profile politicization of statistics, and how to insulate statistical agencies from populism. Statistician a hero? Time to create that new archetype – which reminds TAI of conversations with Dr. Yemi Kale, Nigeria’s Statistician General in championing data quality and integrity (see more in our Data vs. Corruption brief).

Want more on the future of “fact”? Check out the series of opinions curated by the Institute for the Future and Retroreport.

Want to make more of the data they help publish? Take advantage of a new Guide to Data Interoperability.


Data run wild?

Another interesting gathering this past week at the AI Now Summit, where they revealed this telling timeline of (largely US) data governance happenings in the past year – generally not pretty reading.

To offer solace, the AI Now team released a toolkit for accountable AI policy. Still, wonder why there’s no such thing as an objective algorithm? Check out Cathy O’Neil’s helpful video primer with the RSA.

As noted last week, TAI and the Center for Effective Global Action have been thinking about the potential of machine learning (ML) to reinforce public sector accountability, but Weisi Guo, Kristian Gleditsch, and Alan Wilson draw our attention to another application – helping predict outbursts of violence and so prevent conflict, save lives.


Essential Listening and Viewing

China is fast embracing a brave new world of AI where every citizen is under watch, and their behavior scored. Social capital nudge or terrifying state control? Learn more via this ABC News (Australia) story and NPR podcast. How long before other countries follow?


United to conquer

Restrictions on civic freedoms and attacks against human rights defenders not only damage democracy but can undermine economic growth. So affirms new research by the B Team – further fodder for the private sector to speak up and act to defend freedoms. Makes for interesting reading alongside Civicus’ new paper comparing the regulation of civil society organizations’ “political activity” and international funding in 4 EU countries. Findings indicate that Ireland should review its Electoral Act.

Meanwhile, the Inter-Parliamentary Union offers a new handbook for parliamentarians to help understand and apply international standards on freedom of expression in their legislative activities. From one freedom to another – want to refresh your general knowledge of FOI facts? Take up Mucrock’s quiz. 

Past TAI Weeklies have flagged research associating higher proportions of female legislators with governance gains, and now Ayesha Khan makes a strong case in favor of continuous support for increasing women’s political participation.  This builds on UK Aid funded research in Pakistan under Action for Empowerment and Accountability program.


Know your illicit from your illegal

Want the latest on illicit financial flows (IFF)? Check out a new factsheet on IFF in the context of development finance and pair with a whole package of papers curated by the Council on Foreign Relations covering issues of measurement, evaluation, and necessary governance innovations. Want to figure out how to fix things? Think like a criminal – Open Contracting Partnership walks you through how to get rich quick through manipulating public procurement.

Talking of dodgy deals, the trial of Shell and Eni executives over manipulation of oil blocks continues in Milan. Catch up on the story so far courtesy of Global Witness. As for Liberia, the government faces growing public attention over a missing $100 million.

Want more investigative bombshells? Watch the teaser for a new documentary on The Panama Papers.

Lest you think that only savvy investigative journalists or law enforcement can make a difference, think again. A humble bank teller foils an international conspiracy to defraud Angola’s Central bank out of half-a-billion dollars.


Odds and ends

Worried about NGO founder syndrome? Don’t know how to manage succession? Jennifer Lentfer offers 9 things for an ED to consider before stepping down

From executive accountabilities to donor accountabilities. For our philanthropic members, a reminder to keep their boards connected to realities, open to new ideas, inclusive of divergent perspectives, and responsive to a changing world. For government donors, demands to account for the use of taxpayer money tends to focus minds (and media attention) more sharply. Amid the latest press reports, TAI member DFID reiterates its commitment to independent evaluation to ensure aid does work.

Long read of the week


Under the surface: Looking into payments by oil, gas and mining companies to governments by Elena Gaita and Don Hubert



TAI spotlight

We are excited to welcome Luminate to the TAI fold – formerly the governance and citizen engagement initiative of Omidyar Network. We start our TAI focus this week with their new vision…

Our Evolving Commitment to Action | Luminate Group

Stephen King, CEO of Luminate Group, speaks about its launch, expansion of depth in its four key areas of work, strategic priorities and partnerships.

Learning what helps Governments Respond to their citizens | Hewlett Foundation

Alfonsina Peñaloza from Hewlett Foundation explains about their final version of TPA learning sub-strategy and the feedback received from grantees and non-grantees on how to promote government and citizen engagement.

Why we Invested: Democracy Works Labs | Luminate Group

Alissa Black speaks on why they created Democracy works labs and how it will widen the civic engagement sector.

Oil, Politics, Donor Assistance – A Heady Mix in Guyana| TAI

TAI’s Michael Jarvis writing for the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Extractive Industries Executive Session makes a case for better integrating political thinking into technical assistance.

Calls: Proposals, papers, speakers and course invites

On the calendar