September 19, 2017Doug Hadden
I had an odd sense of dismay at the Brookings Institution yesterday hearing about more studies about anti-corruption. The premise of the Transparency, anti-corruption, and sustainable development: Is progress possible? session was that we’ve made little progress in anticorruption despite increasing transparency and open data.
The event conclusion? More data needed, more studies required. Like almost every country development event.
Christine Lagarde opened the day with a anti-corruption speech, and some allusions to the movie Casablanca. A good performance and hit all the anticorruption patterns. Important to note that the IMF has adopted a bit of an anti-corruption mandate. It struck me as odd that representatives of the World Bank were not leading the discussion. The World Bank panel representatives seemed to hedge to the point where it became clear that the Bank is unlikely to do anything new or agile. Disconcerting considering that the Bank has had a strong anti-corruption mandate for years.
You’ll see my twitter notes curated below. Some of the messages that caused concern were:
- Almost none of the data on corruption is useful: that’s been an open secret for years
- Maybe there is too much data – the most meagre of comments, because there have been so many advances in data visualization
- Nothing new can really happen in donor and NGO-led anti-corruption without in-depth studies and the creation of ‘papers’ – the insulation of the development community
- Delays in transparency efforts are rationalized as contextual, with little linkage between donor financing and government openness or human rights
- Private sector organizations, for the most part, are seen as the primary source for corruption as if it wasn’t the age social enterprises and social responsible
- Civil society also seemed to get short shrift in the cabal of experts with the trough of jargon (the world of the day was “macro-critical” for those playing buzzword bingo at home)
- Lots of passive aggressiveness about International Financial Institutions (IFI), thought to be “frank”, but the ignored elephant in the room was the extent to which IFI incentives to lend, and the skirting of country systems, aids in corruption
- Narrative that “transparency isn’t enough”, as if that’s sufficient to delay open data – without the acknowledgement that corruption prospers in opaque environments
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