Donor Group Plans $5 Million Transparency Research Effort

18 November 2011

The Transparency?and ?Accountability Initiative is planning  “a rigorous ?multi?year? research proposal?on? the? impact ?of ?T/A? interventions.”

The London-based organization on Dec. 14 requested submissions?by?research or evaluation institutions or consortia to develop a project. The “budget envelope” is $5 million.

“The ?aim ?is ?to ?fill ?critical ?gaps ?in ?our ?knowledge?about T/A [transparency and accountability] interventions? and ?further ?our ?common ?understanding ?of ?what ?works, ?why ?and ?in ?what ?circumstances?,” according to the announcement.

The “overarching questions” for the research are:

           To what extent can health, agricultural, sanitation and/or education outcomes be attributed to transparency and accountability interventions?

          How and why do transparency interventions generate change in these outcomes (e.g. through which mechanisms, under what conditions, and in what contexts)?

The ?research? will ?be ?funded? by ?the ?Bill &? Melinda ?Gates ?Foundation, ?the? United? Kingdom? Department ?for? International ?Development, ?the ?William? and ?Flora? Hewlett ?Foundation? and ?potentially ?others, ?under ?the? umbrella ?of ?the ?T/AI.

The? deadline? for ?submissions is? 11.59 ?GMT? January ?3rd, ?2012.

The group hopes to learn more about what efforts work in order to guide further funding. The request explains:

There is a wide array of initiatives and interventions in the field of transparency and accountability (T/A), including scorecards, social audits, public expenditure tracking surveys and more. To date, a mix of qualitative and quantitative evidence on these efforts suggests these interventions may positively affect outcomes, such as reducing stock outs in health centers, increasing budgetary allocations for agriculture, increasing effective disbursements of health and agriculture related funding, etc.

However, research that will yield generalizable and policy significant findings focused on T/A interventions that have a high likelihood of being replicable and scalable across a wide range of contexts is still needed.

The T/AI is a donor collaborative that aims to seize this momentum and expand the impact, scale and coordination of funding and activity in the T/A field, as well as explore applications of this work in new areas.

T/AI eight members are: Ford Foundation, Hivos, International Budget Partnership, Omidyar Network, Open Society Foundations, Revenue Watch, Institute, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (Hewlett Foundation).


Martin Tisne, program manager for the Transparency and Accountability Initiative suggested May 20 that considerable additional research is necessary, not only to understand the impact of FOI laws, but to know how change occurs.


His remarks came during the The First Global Conference on Transparency Research held May 19-20 at Rutgers University-Newark, N.J.


ransparency can contribute to greater responsibility for the state, lower corruption, build engagement spaces, and improve budgets, he said, adding, “What we really lack is: under what conditions that takes place.”


 (See previous report.)

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