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TAI Weekly | October 2, 2018
By TAI
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Highlights:

  • 5th IODC conference highlights
  • Digital ID and good governance – match made in heaven or hell?
  • Budgets vs revenues
  • Are RTI laws for show?
  • Head to the citizen forum
  • Never underestimate simple learning
  • TAI spotlight: Hewlett Foundation on the power of feedback

In case you missed it…

5th IODC Conference Highlights

Photo: International Open Data Conference

Global open data fans headed to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the International Open Data Conference (IODC) last week. The OECD laid the ground with the release of its Open Government Data report emphasizing the importance of connecting data and agencies to have more impact of open data (a message close to TAI hearts).
 
One undercurrent was the continued question to demonstrate the value of open data. Stefaan G. Verhulst laid out the need for a far more solid evidence base to move open data from being a good idea to reality. Michael Jelenic from World Bank is trying to address this need – he outlined an innovative approach to measure the value of open data on accountability and service delivery across 25 African countries. Yes, there is an association, but it’s insufficient. Sound familiar to transparency advocates?
 
We now have the benefit of examples collected by Stefaan and others at odimpact.org, and GovLab has gone to partner with IADB and the French Development Agency on a new methodology for open data demand assessment and segmentation.  For its part, TAI trailed its upcoming report on what makes for a savvy governance data investment with blogs on lessons learned to date and new guiding questions for funders and grantees to follow.
 
So, what is the future of open data? Open Knowledge explained their new approach towards answering this question. They believe that asking some of the uncomfortable questions is the best way to know where open data is headed. Getting more women’s voices into shaping the movement would help, and it was encouraging to see Hewlett Foundation partner with Development Gateway to support conversation leaders from OpenHeroines. Want a sense of the themes during the week? Check out the most used words during the conference under #IODC18. Book your plane tickets now for IODC20 in Kenya – theme: bridging data communities.

Digital ID and good governance – match made in heaven or hell?

Over the last decade, nearly 140 countries have issued digital identification. In a new series, Anit Mukherjee and Alan Gelb ask, “what’s next?” as they examine how the digital ID revolution can transform governance in developing countries if governments can navigate the challenges. For a real case example, Tariq Malik details how Malawi achieved universal ID registration within 180 days. Adding momentum, the World Economic Forum launched a shared Platform for Good Digital Identity aiming to bring together digital ID solutions that are “inclusive, trustworthy, safe and sustainable.” TAI member, Omidyar Network has committed a three-year grant to support the platform. Platform members may be reading Wired magazine’s latest article on the dangers.
 
Switching technologies, Machine Intelligence Garage Ethics Committee has created an Ethical Framework for AI applications consisting of seven concepts, along with corresponding questions developed for companies.  What would it take to get the equivalent for government agencies and civil society, suited to lower income contexts? If you are more in the skeptical camp regarding AI, you might want to watch Timnit Gebru’s talk on the limitations.

Budgets vs. revenues

Lewis Hawke from the World Bank highlights the key lessons learned from years of conducting Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability assessments – much still to be done, e.g. only one-fifth of Sub-Saharan African countries implement the budget to within five percentage points.
 
Transparent budgets can increasingly be compared to transparency information on state income. United Nations University has released the most recent version of the Government Revenue Dataset which presents a complete picture of government revenue and tax trends over time. Compare trends in different countries.

Long read of the week

Understanding Data Use: Building M&E Systems that Empower Users by Susan Stout, Vinisha Bhatia-Murdach, Paige Kirby, and Josh Powell

Are RTI laws just for show?

Friday was Right to Know Day, but it seems that existing laws to help access to information are either not being followed by governments or are poorly used by citizens. The latest International Right to Information ratings makes for exciting read. Who guessed Afghanistan would top the list? Western countries rank poorly – none in the top 25. Canada is at 56, the USA at 66. Click on the chart and map to see how different countries are faring.
 
In Uganda, a new survey has indicated that government institutions seemed to use different tactics to avoid fulfillment of access to information requests. Transparency International’s new report covers 11 Asia Pacific countries and stresses the need for tests on RTI laws to balance the public interest of disclosing or withholding information. Finally, MySociety helps us understand why we should even care about the right to know.

Head to the citizen forum

Rebecca Haines makes the case for citizen forums as a path to ensuring broader participation. However, she quickly points out the importance of asking ‘who is speaking for ‘the people’ in participatory governance models, and whose views are standing in for the views of ‘the public’? With social justice, the rule of law, and democratic values under attack in many parts of the world, it is encouraging to see Kenyan activist Maina Kiai join Human Rights Watch to launch a new partnership initiative aimed at building alliances, and engaging communities to promote human rights for all.

Essential viewing

Transparency International’s video offers a deep insight into how deep-rooted the money laundering practice is. Take a look!

Never underestimate simple learning

Larry Kramer of Hewlett Foundation explains how such a simple and basic idea as listening to beneficiaries and using their feedback can go a long way in improving the funder and grantee experience. Evaluations usually serve to inform future directions, but what if you are winding down? Ann W. St. Claire and Barbara A. Schillo offer tips for limited-life organizations on how to take advantage of evaluation to drive progress toward their final goals and measure the lasting impact of their efforts.
 
Finally, want to explore the potential of funder data? Participate in 360Giving data visualization challenge by using your dataset to develop and visualize innovative solutions to two key questions facing the grantmaking sector.  

Podcast

Winners Give More, But Their Giving Reinforces Elite Power

TAI spotlight

The latest from our members

The Power of Feedback | William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Larry Kramer explains how the new SSIR series will open a platform for beneficiary voices to be heard at both the nonprofit and philanthropic level.
 
What We’ve Learnt About Accelerating Impact in India | Omidyar Network
In their latest report, Omidyar Network outlines some of their experiences and learnings from a decade of accelerating impact in India.

A New Social Contract for Digital Democracy | Omidyar Network
Ben Scott from Omidyar Network talks about his new study that explores the crisis for democracy posed by digital disinformation and offers a solution of putting in place a social contract for the internet rooted in transparency, privacy, and competition.

Calls: Proposals, papers, speakers and course invites

On the calendar

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