Data to impact: Learning to use data to strengthen accountability

digital head with data projecting
Jorge Florez
No Comments

In recent years, international donors, not least the members of the Transparency & Accountability Initiative (TAI) collaborative, have invested heavily in governance data. The impact of these investments, however, remains limited. Despite improvements in the quantity of data available in many countries, successful use cases—in which local activists leverage governance data to solve problems related to corruption and the misuse of public resources—are rare. What causes this impact gap? TAI’s Nigeria scoping exercise suggests three barriers are especially important: 

  1. In many cases, governance data is neither user-friendly nor of sufficient quality to enable use. 
  2. Local stakeholders—civil society organizations (CSOs), journalists, governments, and others—often lack the skills and resources to easily clean, analyze, and take action on the basis of governance data.
  3. Sectoral and jurisdictional silos prevent data users from collaborating to produce and use complementary datasets to fight corruption.
Learning to Use Data to Strengthen Accountability in Nigeria: Different datasets, different users, different strategies
The Public and Private Development Center (PPDC), a champion for advancing open contracting in Nigeria, aims to increase stakeholder understanding and use of public procurement data by particular user segments and promote public institution disclosure practices that encourage greater data use. PPDC’s 18-month project seeks to engage the private sector at the federal level and CSOs and media in Kaduna State.
The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), one of Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption organizations, aims to empower citizens and professionals with knowledge and skills relevant for tracing stolen wealth and assets across Nigeria and in other countries. HEDA’s 24-month project engages local and diaspora whistleblowers, government officials, relevant CSOs, civic networks, universities, and journalists.

TAI members are committed to learning how they can best support grantees and their partners on the ground to overcome these barriers. In this vein, TAI members recently provided grants to two data-focused projects in Nigeria, in which local CSO partners are testing distinct strategies for supporting the use of different datasets in the fight against specific corruption challenges. At the same time, TAI is exploring how to support related work in Colombia, where TAI members are likely to soon fund projects that emphasize data and use of data against corruption in the extractives sector (more on that to come). 

Global Integrity is excited to be TAI’s Learning Partner on this Data for Accountability Initiative. We have worked closely with TAI, the Public and Private Development Center (PPDC), and the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) to craft a shared learning agenda, through which we will collectively explore two themes in particular:

  1. The effectiveness and results of different strategies for engaging citizens, media, CSOs, and the private sector in the use of data for accountability and anti-corruption efforts; and
  2. The key contextual and strategic variables that affect project implementation, including the level at which project activities are focused.

TAI Data for Accountability Initiative Learning Agenda

Themes
Learning Questions
Effectiveness and results of approaches to engaging user groups in the use of data for accountability and anti-corruption efforts
  • What engagement strategies used by civil society organizations (CSOs) effectively facilitate use of data by key user groups?
  • What data-focused strategies used by CSOs encourage government agencies to respond, take action, and become more accountable?
Key contextual and strategic variables and their effect on project implementation
  • How do strategies used by CSOs to promote data use differ across user groups? How do those differences affect the achievement of project goals?
  • How do strategies used by CSOs to promote data use differ across administrative levels? How do those differences affect the achievement of project goals?
  • How do international mechanisms (such as OGP) support and/or hinder data for accountability initiatives?


We intend to leverage this learning agenda to generate evidence and insights that can inform the work of anti-corruption activists across the globe—beyond Nigeria and Colombia—so that, eventually, the field can learn to close the data impact gap. In order for that to happen, we need your input: How do the learning questions we’ve arrived at resonate with you? What are the other questions and themes you’d want us to dive into? Tweet us @jflorzeh, @globalintegrity, and @TAInitiative.

In the meantime, we’ll be accompanying TAI and TAI grantees through the end of 2020 (and beyond in Colombia). We’ll help the grantees test their theories of change and monitor progress. We’ll also facilitate regular reflection sessions (starting this week!) and collect some primary data in Nigeria ourselves, all with a view toward producing evidence that will help answer our collective learning questions.

We look forward to providing occasional blog updates throughout, learning and sharing with you as we go. 

Jorge Florez
Jorge Florez
Manager, Fiscal Governance

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Related blog posts