What if you ran an international nonprofit and found out everything you had been doing wasn’t enough?
In the spring of 2008, Global Integrity wrote a book on the state of the art of corruption and governance measurement tools. What we found was startling: despite hand-wringing over “duplication of efforts” by Western aid donors, stakeholders around the world were nearly unanimous in telling us that existing tools weren’t giving them what they needed to inform serious, evidence-based policy choices. International rankings may be great for driving headlines, they told us, but the hard work of creating sustainable anti-corruption reforms requires something more specific, more relevant, more local.
Along the way, we found that some of the most important work being done was happening far below the international media radar—small, local assessments that were creating real change despite being ad hoc and poorly funded. Reformers worldwide told us they wanted and needed those local assessments just as much as (or even more than) the well-known international indices.
Well, we hear you. And the Local Integrity Initiative is our attempt at an answer.
This work in progress requires Global Integrity to challenge many of our assumptions adopted during the last few years—forget international comparisons, because the challenges are too diverse. Forget national governments, because key issues—elections, access to information, administration—are often played out at the local level. Instead, partner even more closely with local stakeholders—advocates, journalists, governments—and let them set a unique direction for each project.
Sub-national assessments aren’t easy. The work involved with assessing the 15 counties in Liberia, our initial pilot project, was similar in scope to scoring a dozen national governments.
But Global Integrity is built for this kind of challenge: more than 95 percent of our staff is already working in-country, collaborating online.
Our global network of anti-corruption experts and journalists is perfectly suited to designing new country-specific indicators, regional projects, and sector assessments, all rooted in the real problems being debated on the ground.
And while each Local Integrity project is different, they are all built on Global Integrity’s tried-and-true formula: work with the best local experts you can find; help them develop actionable indicators for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of anti-corruption systems; and give them a technology platform that makes gathering the information as efficient as possible.
We don’t know exactly what the results will look like in every case. And — don’t worry — we’ll continue to update the nationally-focused Global Integrity Report each year. But we’re excited about this new initiative and hope that you will contribute to shaping it.
Please feel free to comment on this post with your thoughts on this new initiative, and the direction Global Integrity should take going forward.
— Nathaniel Heller & Global Integrity