Approach & Strategy

Our Approach: Putting Learning at the Center of Open Governance

We support progress toward open and accountable governance in countries and communities around the world. We believe that citizens have the right to shape the rules that govern their lives. Moreover, when governance is open and citizens are part of the process, societies are better able to address challenges such as corruption, poor service delivery, environmental degradation, and persistent poverty. Open and accountable governance is fundamental to inclusive and sustainable development.

Research and practical reform experience yield three key insights on how countries move toward open governance. First, progress toward more open governance is inherently political. As such, our approach to supporting progress must be about understanding and engaging with the politics of governance reform. Second, the actors within a given governance context play the primary role in driving governance reform. Therefore, our focus should be on supporting domestic champions of open governance. Third, there is no universal blueprint for open governance. Therefore, our approach must be about supporting processes of adaptive learning that can enable country-level actors to craft solutions, build alliances and drive reforms.

We put these insights into practice through three mutually reinforcing streams of work:
  • Research and data. We work with a global network of researchers who gather data and conduct research on countries’ journeys toward more open governance. We work with these country-level partners to produce original insights through cross-country comparisons, indicator-based assessments, political economy analysis, case studies and action research.
  • Country-level engagement. We partner with reformers in selected countries to facilitate learning and adaptation around opening governance. Our approach uses a mix of structured reflections, political analysis, network mapping, and skill building to strengthen the relationships and build the political capital that is needed to drive progress towards more open governance.
  • Global advocacy. We aim to influence global conversations around open governance using insights from our comparative research and country-level engagement. We focus on key issues, including fiscal governance and money in politics, where policy changes within institutions like the G20 or the World Bank can improve global norms and practices.
What we do and why we do it:

Mission, Insights, Workstreams

To concentrate our efforts, we have decided to cover four thematic areas:
  • Data, learning and citizen engagement. This includes projects on learning in the transparency and accountability space; citizen-generated data; and, designing governance assessments to maximize their value to country-level learning.
  • Multi-stakeholder governance initiatives and the Open Government Partnership in particular. Our work on this theme aims to enhance the effectiveness of initiatives including the Open Government Partnership by strengthening their learning functions and making the most of their interconnections.
  • Open fiscal governance. Our aim in this theme is to improve the ability of citizens to “follow the money”, that is, to track and shape the use of public resources. Our work under this theme includes participatory diagnoses of the fiscal governance landscape, and advocacy intended to shape policy and practice on fiscal governance.
  • Money, politics, and transparency. Our work under this theme builds on our Campaign Finance Indicators project, an assessment of the regulation and practical enforcement of campaign finance in 54 countries. Our focus increasingly extends beyond data collection to supporting the use of that data to stimulate discussion and inform policy dialogue about campaign finance regulation.

Our Strategy

Our strategy builds around the insight that we must put learning at the center of the open governance agenda to catalyze progress. It is the result of extensive consultation with partners, friends, stakeholders and clients. A short 6-page summary can be found here.