Spreadsheets and Transparency at the Millennium Challenge Corporation

In a blogger-focused forum yesterday, acting-CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Rodney Bent, spoke to the importance of “risk-taking” in aid and development. Risk taking isn’t new in development (“Let’s build dams! With loans!”) but it’s refreshing to see the risks being borne by the people making the decisions. The MCC wants transparency, and…

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Timor-Leste Prime Minister to Face Corruption Investigation

The president and government ministers in Timor-Leste have voiced their support for Xanana Gusmão, the current prime minister accused of corruption. Opposition leaders have denounced Gusmão’s actions as “cronyism.” And, finally, Xanana Gusmão has spoken publicly on the allegations he faces. The PM’s first words: “I don’t want to explain any more…” Yesterday, Gusmão expressed…

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Governance Metrics: Why “Fictitious” Numbers Can Be Useful

What do Stalinist-era accounting practices in Hungary, financial reports, and post-WWII U.S. property tax assessments have in common with measuring governance/corruption? More than we think, if we take the argument advanced by a former professor of mine Martha Lampland seriously. In a working paper (PDF) published recently, Lampland (a historical anthropologist) suggests that numbers are…

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