So What the Heck Does Global Integrity Do?

In the past few months, as we've rolled out some brand new initiatives like TESTING 1 2 3: The Global Integrity Innovation Fund and also pulled back the scope of some traditional projects like the Global Integrity Report, I've been getting questions from a range of friends and colleagues that go something like this: "So, uh, what exactly does Global Integrity do these days?"

We tried to answer that through this video, which launched last year. But it's completely understandable that our stakeholders would benefit from a better explanation of our strategy moving forward. Some of the shifts in our strategy impact "flagship" projects like the Global Integrity Report, efforts that defined the organization for many years.

Here's the short answer: Global Integrity is in business to catalyze greater risk taking, experimentation, and innovation in the government transparency and accountability community. 

"Innovation" (notice the changes to our tagline, the launching of our innovation fund) is the strategic objective we are after in our work moving forward. We want the non-governmental organizations, government reformers, policy wonks, and technologists in this space to be more willing to embrace failure in an effort to accelerate the discovery of new approaches to transparency and accountability challenges. Put another way: we're frustrated with and dissatisfied by the current rate of innovation in our community of practice and are trying to put our money (and programs) where our mouths are to address that. We see loads of recycled strategies and interventions being funded and implemented simply because they are safe and proven, even if they achieve only marginal impact.

We don't prefer that approach to affecting change in the world, and we think there's an alternative path.

In the coming years, Global Integrity will be investing heavily in initiatives, technologies, and projects that push the envelope in terms of risk-reward and their potential to be disruptive. Some of these we've already talked about quite publicly while others might not have heard much about. Here are some of our key projects and initiatives moving forward; the hope is that their combined effect yields innovative new ways of tackling government accountability and transparency challenges.

Indaba: We're making a huge push to make Indaba as easy-to-use as possible in 2013. We want hundreds of groups on the platform, sharing methodologies and survey questions, and building fantastic websites with their results without needing to hire an expensive web design firm. More groups using Indaba to be more efficient with their research will ultimately translate to a greater willingness to take risks with transparency and accountability fieldwork, we believe. Innovation win.

TESTING 1 2 3: Self-explanatory, and we've blogged about it extensively elsewhere. We're putting our own cash behind crazy, high-risk experiments. Don't miss out.

Open Government Partnership: Our work in managing the OGP Networking Mechanism is a terrific opportunity to put our innovation agenda to the test in real life. The relationships we've forged with nearly 100-plus technologists, NGOs, and public sector open government innovators are being leveraged to roll out some experimental approaches to open government in a range of countries.

Working towards international norms around political financing transparency. With some close friends and partners, we're trying to cook up an approach to developing and encouraging the adoption of transparency norms around the financing of political parties around the world. If you think transparency around government budgets and the extractives industry is a good thing, just wait until you see what happens when you open up political party books. Is this idea crazy hard? Oh yes. Is it worth the push? Without a doubt.

OpenGov Hub: With our friends at Development Gateway, we just opened the world's first collaborative work space focused on open government. The walls simply drip with innovation, synergy, and other cliches. Or maybe it's just fresh paint, who knows. Stop by and say hi!

Africa Integrity Indicators: In collaboration with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, we're helping to push the envelope in terms of what's possible in Africa when it comes to original in-country research around the good governance agenda. The lessons we are learning there are helping to feed into the strategy behind the revamped Global Integrity Report, and speaking of that…

The Global Integrity Report is not dead, despite rumors to the contrary. Are we pulling back coverage in order to focus on other priorities? Yes. Do we know we need to modernize the methodology before scaling back up country coverage? Yes. Do we think it's worth a pause in order to develop a new methodology for opening up the review process to a much larger swath of the public? Absolutely. If we manage to get that last part right — a far more public data review process whereby anyone can log into Indaba and review a portion of a country data set before it's published — the future Global Integrity Report may be among the most innovative things we do.

Local Integrity Initiative: We just cleared the decks of nearly a dozen amazingly intensive Local Integrity projects that have led to real legislative and institutional reforms in countries, not least of which being the State Integrity Investigation here in the United States. We're going through an internal brainstorming process to identify the next round of Local Integrity projects and will be prioritizing those that have the potential to push the envelope in terms of subject matter, methodological approach, and potential impact. We hope our future sub-national and sector projects serve as a demonstration effect to others in showing just how aggressive one can be at the local level with evidence-based research and outreach.

And last but not least, we'll continue to offer our Foglamp service to the international investment community as a source of earned revenue for Global Integrity.


There's lots going on here at Global Integrity, to be sure. But it's not at all a random collection of work; in fact, we're doing better than ever at aligning our programmatic work with our strategy. Still have questions? Let's continue the conversation below or on Twitter (@GlobalIntegrity).

Nathaniel Heller

— Image: Global Integrity

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