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1 2 3 Executive Summary ..................................................................................................... 5 Introduction ................................................................................................................ 8 Theories of transparency, accountability and participatory initiatives (TAIs) ......... 10 . 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 4 Transparency initiatives: Definitions and Assumptions ..................................... 10 Accountability initiatives: Definitions and Assumptions ................................... 12 . Participatory initiatives: Definitions and Assumptions ...................................... 13 Relationships among transparency, accountability and participation .............. 14
Traditional (non‐/pre‐ICT) transparency and accountability initiatives ................... 20 4.1 Making government information transparent ................................................... 20 Right to information.................................................................................... 20 Transparent budget information ................................................................ 21
4.1.1 4.1.2 4.2
Auditing government information and services ................................................ 23 Complaint mechanisms ............................................................................... 23 Citizen report cards and community scorecards ........................................ 23 Community Monitoring .............................................................................. 27 Public hearings and social audits ................................................................ 28 Public Expenditure Monitoring ................................................................... 28
4.2.1 4.2.2 4.2.3 4.2.4 4.2.5 4.3
Public participation in budget ............................................................................ 29 Participatory budgeting .............................................................................. 29 Gender Budgeting ....................................................................................... 31
4.3.1 4.3.2 4.4 5
Dialogue and activism ........................................................................................ 32
Technologies for transparency, accountability and participation ............................ 33 5.1 Websites and wikis ............................................................................................. 34 Public Information or Transparency Campaigns......................................... 34 2
5.1.2 5.1.3 5.2
Tracking voting records/politicians ............................................................ 35 . Digital budgeting ......................................................................................... 35
Social media ....................................................................................................... 39 Publicizing Information and Organizing Crowds ......................................... 39 Deepening Democracy and Long‐Term Impact .......................................... 40
5.2.1 5.2.2 5.3
Interactive mapping ........................................................................................... 42 Mapping Election Results ........................................................................... 42 . Citizen Reporting issues .............................................................................. 42 Crime Mapping ........................................................................................... 44 . Budgets and Financial Transactions ............................................................ 44 The Case of Sithi: Mapping Human Rights Violations ................................. 45
5.3.1 5.3.2 5.3.3 5.3.4 5.3.5 5.4
SMS and Voice Based Reporting ........................................................................ 46 Citizen Reporting Issues with Service Delivery ........................................... 46 The Case of CGNet Swara: localized citizen journalism .............................. 46
5.4.1 5.4.2 5.5 6
Hybrid and "older" technologies ........................................................................ 48
Findings, discussion and policy recommendations .................................................. 49 6.1 6.2 The value of ICTs ................................................................................................ 49 Research and policy recommendations ............................................................. 52 Impact on the poor and information capabilities ....................................... 52 Online or offline impact/ Measuring social impact .................................... 53 Comparison between ICT and non‐ICT enabled initiatives ........................ 54 A comprehensive database ........................................................................ 54 . Changing nature of state ............................................................................ 55 Research methods ...................................................................................... 55 Robustness of data ..................................................................................... 56 Gender and participation ............................................................................ 56 Regulation and Ethics ................................................................................. 57 . 3
6.2.1 6.2.2 6.2.3 6.2.4 6.2.5 6.2.6 6.2.7 6.2.8 6.2.9
BIBLIOGRAPHY .......................................................................................................... 59
1 Executive Summary
In wake of the events of Arab Spring and increasingly over the last decade, there has been attention and expectations on the role that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based technology platforms such as websites and wikis, social media, interactive geo‐mapping, and SMS and voice based reporting can play in increasing accountability, participation and transparency in public administration (R. Avila et al., 2010; Davis, 2004; Pina, Torres, & Royo, 2009). Public bureaucracies are under pressure to adapt and more openly improve the ways they interact with citizens through the adoption of web‐based technologies (Ibid.). Factors such as the gap between public expectation and perceived governmental performance, the role of mass media, political scandals, lack of transparency, and corruption contributed to a decline of public trust in government in the last two decades (Nye, 1997; Sirker & Cosi, 2007). The field of technology for transparency, accountability and participation is an increasingly dynamic space for innovation. Whether it is using the power of crowds to monitor elections, or educating citizens about how the government spends money on public service, or monitoring local and national government budgets, ICTs are tools that have been used to shift how accountability and transparency are incorporated into public service delivery. ICTs, particularly online and mobile technology tools, are changing the transparency and accountability field. Many of the initiatives including complaints mechanisms, public information/transparency campaigns, and public expenditure monitoring, are based on ICT platforms (R Avila, Feigenblatt, & Heacock, 2009). A number of websites function as portals where citizens can list their complaints related to their government’s performance and administration. As a result, citizens may have better access to information through technologies and can find new ways to participate (R Avila, et al., 2009). Citizen journalism and the concept of digital democracy are rapidly emerging and citizens are demanding their rights in public online forums. There are also initiatives that aim for transparency by publishing more information about the private sector that are in the public’s interest. This report focuses on analyzing the conditions under which new technologies can enhance delivery of public services to the poor through improved accountability and transparency. It examines the linkages between the use of innovations in technology, increased accountability and the effects on the delivery of public services to poor communities. Specifically, the paper investigates the role that the combination of social media, geo‐mapping and various technology platforms can play in this process. Section 2 of the report lays down the theories behind transparency, accountability and participatory initiatives, while critiquing the assumptions inherent within these. 5
Section 3 outlines traditional (non‐/pre‐ICT) transparency and accountability initiatives, making information transparent, the auditing of government services and information, (including participatory budgeting), and the resultant potential for dialogue and activism. Section 4 moves on to reviewing cases of technologies for transparency. For example, we examine cases of websites and wikis that are used in public information or transparency campaigns, for tracking voting records and politicians, and for digital budgeting. Cases focus on the use of social media, specifically for publicizing information and organizing crowds, and deepening democracy. We also look at cases of interactive mapping, specifically for mapping election results, citizen reporting issues, crime mapping, budgets and financial transactions, and mapping human rights violations. Finally, we look at platforms for citizen reporting with service delivery and localized citizen journalism. These cases highlight the challenges and practical implications of what technologies can do in the transparency and accountability field. Section 5 enters into the discussion of the value of ICTs, as opposed to "off‐line" attempts at transparency and accountability. It also outlines a set of research and policy recommendations. There are several important factors influencing and limiting the effectiveness of technology‐based transparency and accountability initiatives: the level of democratization or context within which demands can be made for accountability; ‘political will’ or support for accountability and transparency initiatives; political economy within which the initiatives operate is influential; enabling legal frameworks, and incentives and mechanisms for sanctions on public officials to influence behavior. On the demand side, the capabilities of citizens and civil society organizations to access and use information as well as the capacity to mobilize are important factors influencing the impact technologies for transparency can have. We argue that ICTs smoothen the transition from data> information> action but also conflate each of these stages, so that it becomes a seamless, iterative cycle. We find that technologies enable accountability, transparency and participation by: reducing the distance between government service provider and user with more access to decision makers’, information and platforms to raise concerns and issues providing multi‐platform opportunities for dissemination and interaction with information providing visual and analytical tools for citizens to access government data and therefore simplifying traditionally presented government information (e.g. budgets or to compare year‐on‐year, or with other departments, or states) providing real‐time opportunities for citizen interaction and feedback
The combination of a free media with ICTs being used for accountability and transparency is powerful in the dissemination of information and attention to locally 6
relevant issues. The level at which ICTs can be used as an effective tool depends on the ICT infrastructure itself, levels of connectivity throughout a country, and broadband penetration. The ubiquity of devices can also determine who is participating and contributing to the process of accountability and transparency. In Section 5, the report concludes with a set of policy recommendations. Below are a few of the key recommendation areas. Impact on the poor and information capabilities: access to ICTs is important but not sufficient for meaningful impact in terms of enhancement of ICT capabilities and sustainable change for the poor. Enhancing peoples’ informational capabilities through digital literacy is critical in determining the impact of accountability and transparency initiatives on poor peoples’ well‐being. Online or offline impact/ Measuring social impact: It is still unclear what the actual impacts (social, political, economic) of these initiatives are for both governments and citizens and how best to measure it. Need to better understand the factors that enable or constrain replication of initiatives and how together they create an enabling environment for transparency and accountability Comparison between ICT and non‐ICT enabled initiatives: little empirical comparative data looking at ICT and non‐ICT enabled transparency and accountability initiatives exist. When designing and supporting new initiatives that are ICT based, analysis of the actual value ICTs may have vs. a low tech solution is important. A comprehensive database: Currently there is no comprehensive central database of all transparency and accountability initiatives using ICTs worldwide as well as NGOs working in this field. Recommend a collaborative undertaking to work together to build a comprehensive database that can be a resource to development agencies, decision makers, governments, NGOs, and academics. Gender: The technologies for transparency initiatives have implications for gender, particularly on its impacts for women and girls. However, this is a largely untapped area which seems to hold potential for women to use technologies as a tool to enable better participation in public processes, demanding services, and interacting with governments. Research is needed to better understand how these technologies may have a positive (or negative) impact in the lives of girls and women. Regulation and Ethics: There are implications for how ICTs are used, what platforms should be used, and importantly how this is regulated. There is much work to be done in defining a regulatory and legal framework under which transparency and accountability initiatives can operate 7
In wake of the events of Arab Spring and increasingly over the last decade, there has been attention and expectations on the role that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based technology platforms such as websites and wikis, social media, interactive geo‐mapping, and SMS and voice based reporting can play in increasing accountability, participation and transparency in public administration (R. Avila, et al., 2010; Davis, 2004; Pina, et al., 2009). Public bureaucracies are under pressure to adapt and more openly improve the ways they interact with citizens through the adoption of web‐based technologies (Ibid.). Factors such as the gap between public expectation and perceived governmental performance, the role of mass media, political scandals, lack of transparency, and corruption contributed to a decline of public trust in government in the last two decades (Nye, 1997; Sirker & Cosi, 2007). Innumerable studies indicate that public investments in services have resulted in inadequate returns. Additionally, the failure in many countries to achieve substantial poverty reduction and much inequity among marginalized people contributes to a lack of trust in government. Improved governance processes and increased public trust in governments has been associated with increased responsiveness to citizens through two way interactions between governments and citizens (R. Avila, et al., 2010; Joshi, 2010; Mc Gee & Gaventa, 2010). More access and transparency of information has been perceived as a way to enhance trust in governments by improving accountability of government services and empowering citizens with e‐governance (Demchak, Friis, & La Porte, 2000). E‐ government can be interpreted in various ways. Definitions of egovernment vary from “the translation of private sector e‐commerce experiences to the public sector” to issues of actual governance such as online engagement of stakeholders in “shaping, debating, and implementing public policies” (Pina, et al., 2009). The field of technology for transparency, accountability and participation is an increasingly dynamic space for innovation. Whether it is using the power of crowds to monitor elections, or educating citizens about how the government spends money on public service, or monitoring local and national government budgets, information and communication technologies (ICTs) are tools that have been used to shift how accountability and transparency are incorporated into public service delivery. Over the last decade, both accountability and transparency have emerged as critical ways to address both developmental failures and democratic shortfalls (Mc Gee & Gaventa, 2010). This is based on the argument that “through greater accountability, ‘leaky pipes’ of corruption and inefficiency will be repaired, aid will be channeled more effectively, and in turn development initiatives will produce greater and more visible results” (McGee et al, 2010, p. 3). In the context of democracy, there are increasing expectations that democracy must lead to material outcomes through new forms of democratic accountability. There has been a shift in perception that traditional forms of state‐led accountability are increasingly seen to be inadequate. Instead, innumerable 8
multi‐stakeholder and citizen‐led approaches have increased in visibility and importance. Such initiatives now supplement or supplant traditional state led ones (Ibid). Technology plays a unique and interesting role in the space of accountability and transparency initiatives. A study by Avila (2010) indicates ICTs, particularly online and mobile technology tools, are changing the transparency and accountability field. Many of the initiatives including complaints mechanisms, public information/transparency campaigns, and public expenditure monitoring, are based on ICT platforms (R Avila, et al., 2009). A number of websites function as portals where citizens can list their complaints related to their government’s performance and administration. Citizens have better access to information through technologies and new ways to participate (R Avila, et al., 2009). Citizen journalism and the concept of digital democracy are rapidly emerging and citizens are demanding their rights in public online of the private sector. Many of these efforts are just beginning, but the literature indicates that several cases show that they are “moving ahead of traditional transparency organizations and their models.”(R. Avila, et al., 2010). Technology based transparency efforts are noted for their speed in execution and stimulating change. These initiatives are developed by a number of different types of stakeholders and include collaborative approaches including governments and/or service providers. Technology for transparency efforts are often classified as “pull” or “push” efforts. Specifically, “push” efforts have goals of giving voice to civil society. “Pull” efforts on the other hand raise awareness on the part of the public. These “pull” efforts try to provide an accessible information pool from which the public can pull relevant information to “better inform their demand for improved governance and service delivery.” For the purposes of this paper, we focus on technologies for transparency in relation to public officials, government processes, and budgets rather than other aspects of governance such as the judiciary. This paper will focus on analyzing the conditions under which new technologies can enhance delivery of public services to the poor through improved accountability and transparency. It will examine the linkages between the use of innovations in technology, increased accountability and the effects on the delivery of public services to poor communities. Specifically, the paper will investigate the role that the combination of social media, geo‐mapping and other platforms can play in this process, while bearing in mind that more traditional technologies, such as community radio and print media can also be effective channels. Adopting a sociotechnical approach as it does, i.e. that both the technical and societal aspects of ICTs for transparency and accountability need to be discussed, the paper targets a diverse range of stakeholders, from government policymakers, ICT specialists, academics, regulatory agencies to "ordinary" citizens. The paper is structured in the following way. The next section lays down the theories behind transparency, accountability and participatory initiatives, while critiquing the assumptions inherent within these. Section 3 outlines traditional (non‐/pre‐ICT) 9
transparency and accountability initiatives, in terms of firstly making information transparent, the auditing of government services and information, including participatory budgeting, and the resultant potential for dialogue and activism. Section 4 moves on to technologies for transparency, reviewing technologies such as websites and wikis, social media, interactive mapping, mobile phones, and arguing that other technologies such as community radio should not be forgotten. Section 5 enters into the discussion on the value of ICTs, as opposed to "off‐line" attempts at transparency and accountability, and research and policy recommendations.
3 Theories of transparency, accountability and participatory initiatives (TAIs)
3.1 Transparency initiatives: Definitions and Assumptions
In the last decade, the capacity of government and civil society to undertake transparency initiatives has substantially grown, increasingly aided by technology. Literature indicates that demand side approaches can lead to enhanced governance through participation (or citizen’s voice), accountability and responsiveness (Sirker & Cosi, 2007). Participation, transparency and accountability are at the basis of debates and literature on service delivery (Joshi, 2010). The World Development Report (2004) argued that the “long route” of accountability through public officials and elected political figures to providers was failing to serve the poor. The WDR argued for an alternative “short route” which created direct accountability between users and providers (World Bank 2004). Out of these arguments grew a body of literature that examined how to strengthen the “short route” by strengthening and providing a platform for voice, improving transparency and enhancing accountability (Sirker & Cosi, 2007). Transparency initiatives have been defined as “any attempts (by states or citizens) to place information or processes that were previously opaque in the public domain, accessible for use by citizen groups, providers or policy makers” (Joshi, 2010, p.2). For example, more than 60 countries around the world have launched right to information acts, from Sweden in 1966, two more recently Mexico in 2002 and India in 2005. Civil society campaigners have welcomed this transparency, in the hope that it will lead to accountability in the glare of the public eye (Fox, 2007). However, it could also be said that in comparison to accountability and participation, transparency has received more practical and less conceptual attention. In other words, it is taken for granted that there needs to be transparency, but there is less discussion on what exactly is meant when we talk of transparency. There is a danger that such a warm all‐encompassing term, which can mean all things to all people, can be a victim of its broad appeal, by a lack of definition and critique. Two broad approaches on transparency can be found: firstly, the multiple ways in which transparency can be 10
unpacked and critiqued, and secondly, the way in which it is both instigated either through push/pull mechanisms, and how it is addressed in terms of directionality, for example upwards and downwards transparency. These multiple interpretations of transparency, push/pull mechanisms and directionality will be discussed below. Firstly then, in terms of multiple definitions, one can ask, who needs to be transparent? To whom? Is the entity that needs to be accountable an individual or an organization? Is the recipient of the accountability an individual or an organization? Why does the entity (individual or organization) need to be accountable? Is it on the basis of a human right, is to tackle corruption, crime, or generally evaluate individual/institutional performance? Fox 2007 argues that each of these would require different mechanisms to tackle the accountability: corruption and crime would require more legalistic measures, while performance more systematic interventions. He uses the example of budget transparency: if corruption is in question, transparency would mean revealing the details of public sector contracts, whereas if performance assessment is the final aim, it is more the impact of public spending which needs to be made transparent ‐ how the agency used the funds, and to what effect. It is therefore inevitable that transparency is linked to accountability, the assumption being that transparency generates accountability, with phrases such as "information is power" and "the truth shall set you free" (Fox, 2007). Once information is made transparent, the entity that needs to be transparent can be held accountable. Yet, as noted, empirical evidence does not illustrate a straightforward causal link between transparency and accountability (Fox, 2007). Instead, further clarification is needed. Under what conditions can transparency leads to accountability? What types of transparency generates what types of accountability (Fox, 2007). Fox argues that there is not just one type of transparency, but there can even be opaque and clear transparency, where the first involves simply disseminating nominal information, which may not even be reliable, needing the work of intermediaries such as civil society organizations to translate it into more accessible language, and to analyze it. The second, clear transparency, is reliable, concise transparency which reveals who is accountable for what processes. The extent to which transparency is opaque or clear can result in whether accountability is soft (there is a need for institutional "answerability") or hard (sanctions or compensation can be applied). In terms of push/pull, transparency can either be proactive (driven by the government, such as right to information acts) or demand driven ‐ in practice initiatives may be an iterative process of both. In terms of directionality, transparency can be both downwards (that society requires governments to be transparent about how it operates) but also upwards (that the state also has the right to monitor whether citizens are accountable to their behavior, for example social security checks to ensure that citizens are legally entitled to the services they apply for).
This then returns to the notion of the multiple ways in which transparency is understood: transparency may be seen as surveillance (e.g. the government requesting social security checks). Using the US government's investment in Jordan's eGovernment program, for example, Ciborra (2005) argues that the drive for "transparency" is rather surveillance on a country which is geographically critical. Such interpretation unpacks not only the notion of transparency, but also accountability, as discussed next (Ciborra, 2005).
3.2 Accountability initiatives: Definitions and Assumptions
Schedler (1999) defines public accountability as “the relationships between the power holder (account‐provider) and delegator (account‐demander).” There are four key elements of an accountability relationship which include setting standards, acquiring information about actions, making decisions about appropriateness and identifying and sanctioning unsatisfactory performance (Joshi, 2010, 3). As with the transparency literature, however, the accountability literature does not identify which of these elements are essential for a particular initiative to be considered robust. It is noted that often some, but not all of these four components can be found and have an impact on public services (Ibid). Also as with transparency literature, there is an element of directionality, as accountability is either considered horizontal (e.g. state or civil society organizations monitoring state accountability) or vertical (e.g., electoral choice) (Goetz and Jenkins, 2001). There are many state‐led and citizen‐led initiatives that demand accountability in service delivery. Multiple stakeholders demand accountability of politicians who are not adopting appropriate policies. Additionally accountability is demanded of public officials who are not delivering services according to rules or entitlements or not monitoring providers for appropriate service levels. Finally accountability is demanded directly of providers for not maintaining service levels in terms of access and quality (Davis, 2004; Joshi, 2010). However, as with transparency, the concept of accountability can be critiqued and interpreted in several ways. Firstly, Goetz and Jenkins (2001) argue that horizontal accountability is largely unsuccessful, and more powers should be given to citizens to ensure political accountability, as elections have their own shortcomings (an argument closely linked to the value of technology, which will be returned to in this paper). They go on to argue that where citizen participation is incorporated into horizontal accountability, more powerful hybrid forms of accountability emerge. Secondly, it is argued that although accountability may be understood in instrumental terms, such as the monitoring and planning of public service delivery, as identified above, there also needs to be greater consideration of what exactly accountability means. As with transparency, accountability is a social construct, consisting of the attitudes, relationships, power structures and norms of the organization being accounted for (Roberts, 1991; Mulgan, 2000). These local interpretations of accountability are critical if 12
we are to understand how accountability can be institutionalized. If accountability is an external requisite, not integrated with an entire government process from initiation to evaluation, it is unlikely to be more than superficial information gathering and consultation (Paul, 1992; Vigoda and Golembiewski).
3.3 Participatory initiatives: Definitions and Assumptions
Citizen participation is the third inextricable element of the tripartite fundamentals of efficient and effective government service delivery: accountability, transparency, and participation. Although participation has been seen as a democratic principle (Held, 2006; Hickey & Mohan, 2005), like accountability, it is a difficult concept to capture and define, broadly seen as possible through direct, representational or information based (when aggregate results lead to a decision in terms of planning) participation. In addition to the differing views as to what participation is, there are also different understandings of the value of participation. In terms of the definitions, there are four broad assumptions in capturing the concept of participation: that it is a process based on dialogue and negotiation, that it involves the necessary stakeholders/actors, that this participation should be equitable and active, and that participation can be and frequently is on a sliding scale from weak to strong. Participation is recommended through the life cycle of a project, from requirements analysis to evaluation (Gavin & Pinder, 1998; Gosling & Edwards, 2003). Estrella and Gaventa (1998) compare the difference between conventional and participatory evaluation as below (Estrella & Gaventa, 1998)
Who What Conventional External experts Predetermined indicators of success, Principally cost and production outputs Focus on "scientific objectivity," distancing of evaluators from other participants; delayed, limited access to results Usually upon completion of project, sometimes also mid‐term Accountability, usually summative, to determine if funding continues Participatory Community members, project staff, facilitator People identify their own indicators of success, which may include production outputs Self‐evaluation, simple methods adapted to local culture; open, immediate sharing of results through local involvement in evaluation process More frequent, small scale evaluations To empower local people to initiate, control, and take corrective action
However, one can already see issues arising regarding the assumptions of participation: who manages the dialogue and negotiation? Who defines which stakeholders and actors participate? How can this participation be equitable and active? Numerous critiques have been raised regarding both the definitions and assumptions of participation. It is argued that those who participate are usually those who are already politically 13
interested, motivated, articulate and who can afford the time to participate (Cooke & Kothari, 2001). In their research in participatory environmental policy in Nepal, Agrawal and Gupta (2005) found that the opportunity cost of participation was too high for poorer segments of the population, and therefore it was the economically and socially better off participated in meetings. Women in particular may be sidelined, or considered as a homogenous group (Gujit & Shah, 1998). This may create a vicious circle, where weaker voices may not be heard and they may not be motivated enough to participate again. For these reasons, participation has been increasingly treated with caution, with many arguing that it is no more than a "warmly persuasive" (Williams, 1976), "politically ambivalent and definitionally vague" term (Andrea Cornwall & Brock, 2005) which needs greater conceptual clarity. In theory, then, ICTs can lower barriers to participation, through the use of mobile phones, community radio, as well as through intermediaries when the technologies require higher levels of skill and literacy (e.g. online fora, contributing to wikis or participatory budgeting). However, as will be discussed in this paper, this raises a number of complexities which should not be underestimated: what is the broader environment in which participation is encouraged? Who are the intermediaries and what vested interests may they have?
3.4 Relationships among transparency, accountability and participation
Transparency and accountability initiatives are based on a set of assumptions and aspirations of improving the quality of governance and supporting democratic outcomes, improving the effectiveness of development initiatives, and leading to stronger roles for citizens in government processes (Mc Gee & Gaventa, 2010). These initiatives are based on goals of expected impact such as increased state or institutional responsiveness, lowered levels of corruption, the development of new democratic spaces for citizen engagement, increased participation or role for local voices, and improved utilization of budget and delivery of services(Mc Gee & Gaventa, 2010). Other claims are based on the premise that transparency will lead to accountability. With increased transparency in the decision making process of the state, greater accountability can result for citizens. There is an interesting and dynamic relationship among transparency, participation and accountability. Does transparency lead to accountability? If citizens have more information and participation, will this lead to public officials performing more effectively? These linkages as well as the impact and effectiveness in service delivery are often assumed, rather than overtly stated (Joshi, 2010). As Figure 1 indicates, there is a claim that these initiatives will create awareness among citizens through transparency of information. This will lead to a process of empowerment and participation through formal and informal institutions. Finally, the relationship leads to accountability by changing the incentives of providers and resulting behavior change. 14
In reality, as the literature indicates, the relationship among these concepts is much more complex. While the claims of many transparency and accountability initiatives are ambitious, the underlying assumptions are often untested. At the outset, there is an assumption that if information is made public through transparency initiatives, this will expose corruption. Then concerned citizens can participate in the governance process by exercising their voice and have a platform to express discontent with the status quo. The relationship between participation and improved accountability, however, is not inevitably straightforward. As seen, Fox (2007) argues that transparency will not always or necessarily lead to accountability. A second set of claims argues that transparency may lead to increased responsiveness by providers, improvements in access to services and better development outcomes. This assumes again that exposure of poor performance on the part of providers will lead to improved responsiveness. It also assumes that the shortcomings in service delivery can be attributed to poor motivation of public officials rather than because of lack of resources or capacities. Additionally it assumes that with these mechanisms in place, public officials will be motivated to better behavior. Yet, as Joshi 2010 states, “there is no clear reason why all of these assumptions will hold true in specific cases: public providers may be immune to exposure of poor performance, increased citizen voice may be met with backlash and reprisals, lack of resources may constrain public officials’ capacity to respond, and accountability mechanisms may not be enough of a deterrent" (Joshi, 2010, p.6). Growing evidence indicates that transparency alone is insufficient, and only leads to greater accountability in interaction with and in relation to other factors. By framing the question around “under what conditions can transparency lead to accountability”, it becomes possible to understand those factors. For example, this could include asking whether particular institutional spaces are used for inclusion (A. Cornwall & Coelho, 2006). With this is the related assumption that effective institutions are necessarily transparent and accountable. However, there is a tension between effectiveness and accountability(Mainwaring, 2003). It is critical to unpack the conditions under which the two interact. 15
A final, related set of claims is that transparency and accountability initiatives lead to greater participation of the poor and empowerment with greater awareness of information and rights. This assumes that with information, comes power. Joshi argues that “we simply do not know much about when citizen groups engage in social accountability activities. To the extent that accountability initiatives are collective and aggregate citizen voice, they can be empowering of the poor, whose strength lies in numbers.” (Joshi, 2010). McGee argues that little may be known about the incentives and constraints of collective action to use this information (2010). What factors are then necessary to ensure transparency, accountability and participation? One framework is the set of "ARVIN" indicators, developed by the World Bank, where Association (A) relates to the freedom of citizens to associate ; Resources (R) refers to their ability to mobilize resources to fulfill the objectives of their organizations ; Voice(V) to their ability to formulate and express opinion; Information (I) to their access to information, and Negotiation(N) to the existence of spaces and rules of engagement for negotiation, participation and public debate. Each of these is subject to the existing legal and regulatory framework, political and governance context, sociocultural characteristics and economic conditions. The full framework is as below:
Legal and Regulatory Framework Association ‐ Freedom of association ‐ Procedures for registering CSOs ‐ Policies and procedures for licensing CSOs
Political and Governance Context
Economic Conditions Socio‐Cultural Characteristics
‐ Recognition ‐ Social capital and ‐ Gender accreditation barriers ‐ Illiteracy policies and procedures ‐ Attitudes to ‐ Conflict of youth, registration and disabled, licensing elderly regulations ‐ Social hierarchies ‐ Government grants, private funds, other transferences ‐ Donations from politicians ‐Political interference on ‐ Social philanthropy (the culture of giving) ‐ History of associational life, self‐help
‐ Cost of legal registrations and accreditations ‐ Cost of convening meetings and forums ‐ Cost of communication and travel
Resources ‐ Tax laws ‐ Laws on foundations ‐ Regulation of fund raising ‐ Procurement regulation
‐ Impact of economic pressures on CSO funding sources ‐ Impact on employment ‐ Infrastructure and cost of communications
contracting Voice ‐ Constitutional ‐ Political provisions and control of laws on freedom public media of expression ‐ Restriction on ‐ Media and ICT civic protests related laws ‐ Mass media influence on policy making ‐ Professional training of journalists
and gap‐filling ‐ Fees associated with ‐ Communication expressing views in media practices (use (ads vs. op‐ed) ‐ Costs to of media by different social present/publish/distribute views (petitions, groups) newsletters, radio ‐ Gender stations) barriers ‐ Relations between media and CSOs ‐ Role of information movements and networks ‐ Barriers created by illiteracy ‐ Social barriers ‐ The use of word of mouth (oral cultures) ‐ Costs/fees for access to public documents ‐ Printing and communications facilities
Information ‐ Constitutional ‐ Information disclosure of provisions on policies and access to practices. information ‐ Ability to ‐ Freedom of information laws demystify ‐ Regulations for public policy access to public and budgets information (people, places and documents) Negotiation ‐ Legally established dialogue spaces (referendums, lobby regulations, public forums, etc.) ‐ Decentralization legislation, provision for participation ‐ Legal framework to define
‐ Political will ‐ Social values and capacity to and hierarchies engage citizens that set rules ‐ CSO and collaboration expectations with on who can legislatures speak on what ‐ Political subject in what limitations to context and the role of when (social legislatures exclusion of ‐ children and Institutionalized youth, dialogues disabled, ‐ Social elderly, and accountability other special
‐ Impact of economic pressures on autonomy, bargaining power and advocacy of CSOs ‐ Risk of co‐option ‐ Impact of budget constraints on capacities of legislators to engage in budget accountability
mechanisms institutional roles, checks and balances: Legislature, executive, and auditor general ‐ Legal framework for rules/regulations guiding the budget decision‐ making process
ARVIN has already been applied in Senegal and Albania. A more information focused framework is suggested by Heeks (2000) who argues that government provision of information for transparency and accountability relies on assumptions that a) data is made available and transparent; b) this data is accessed by stakeholders who are able to assess it and transform it into information; c) that this information can be acted upon and d) used to initiate citizen‐government and citizen‐citizen dialogue and activism; e) that government takes action based on these processes. This informs our understanding and typology of "pre‐" or "non‐" ICT initiatives. Firstly, information needs to be made transparent through right to information initiatives and transparent budget initiatives. This can then be audited through complaint mechanisms, citizen report cards and community scorecards. And finally, there is the potential and space for dialogue and activism (e.g. used for participatory community monitoring, participatory budgeting). See figure 2 below.
However, the potential for each of these, and their transformation into the next stage is influenced by a number of contextual factors, as indicated by ARVIN. Therefore, although the next section deconstructs "traditional" transparency and accountability initiatives into those that make government information transparent (access), those that audit government information and services (assess/adapt), and those that encourage dialogue and activism (act), along the lines of Heeks's framework, this is a deliberately artificial distinction, to illustrate how, as will be discussed in sections 5 and 6, ICTs conflate each of these steps, making the process of access/assess/act shorter, more iterative, more seamless and more participative.
4 Traditional (non‐/pre‐ICT) transparency and accountability initiatives
There are a number of different types of initiatives in the transparency and accountability space that existed without the use of ICTs. Most of these revolved around the label ‘social accountability’ such as citizen report cards, community score cards, community monitoring, public hearings and audits. (Ackerman, 2004; Davis, 2004; Deininger & Mpuga, 2005) These are based on the idea that traditional service delivery has failed the poor and that demand‐led accountability initiatives can improve the effectiveness of service delivery. Social accountability encompasses several definitions including monitoring by citizen groups of public authority (Peruzzotti & Smulovitz, 2006), participation in policy making, policy advocacy as well as deliberation (Joshi, 2010). It could be one part of a package of strategies that citizen groups use to acquire better services through mobilization, political advocacy, and intermediation. Specifically, we will now look at a number of social accountability initiatives that were not ICT based. With each initiative, we will highlight the theories of change for impact, the underlying assumptions, the factors that influence the process and evidence of impact.
4.1 Making government information transparent
4.1.1 Right to information
Over 85 countries around the world have implemented legislation to ensure freedom of access to information held by governments. In the United Kingdom, the Freedom of Information Act was passed in 2000, coming into effect in 2005. At the time, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, stated that "the very fact of its introduction will signal a new relationship between government and people: a relationship which sees the public as legitimate stakeholders in the running of the country and sees election to serve the public as being given on trust." Ecuador signed a "Transparency and Access to Information Law" in 2004. Malaysia passed a Freedom of Information Act as recently as 2011. Mexico's "Federal Law of Transparency and Access to Public Government Information" was signed by Vicente Fox in June 2002. In India, the Right to Information Act was implemented in 2005, where any citizen can request government‐held information in any state (excluding Jammu and Kashmir). This marked a watershed in terms of transparency, if not accountability. The law states that any enquiry or complaint made to a "public authority" must be addressed within 30 days. There are inevitably both benefits and weaknesses to acts such as these. On the one hand, requesting information in itself may speed up government processes. This was the case reported of Chandra Devi, a rural citizen of Jharkhand, in India, who applied for a government grant to build a bricks and mortar house, but whose application went unaddressed until she asked for further information as to where it had 20
reached and why others were being successful (Polgreen, 2011b). Once the enquiry was made, her grant was approved. However, there are several critiques levelled at the underlying assumption of the "right to information". One is that although it may act as a pressure valve to speed up processes, the overall nature of bureaucratic corruption particularly that of middlemen is not addressed. Another is that if there is no equivalent horizontal accountability measures (such as the power of the police, ombudsman, and legislation); citizens may make themselves even more vulnerable. Queries can end in fatal consequences, as in the example given where Amit Jethwa, attempting to stop illegal quarrying in Gir National Park in Gujarat, was attacked by assassins believed to be linked to the local politicians backing the quarrying, after leaving his lawyer's office. Jethwa had repeatedly filed RTI requests, and found that 55 illegal quarries existed in and around the preserve, and the process of establishing these had been documented on land leases, electricity records etc. held by the government (Polgreen, 2011a). While the principles of Right to Information precede the widespread use of ICTs, particularly in developing countries, many countries are developing ICT platforms to handle access to information requests, including India, Chile and Mexico. Technology can and has certainly speeded up the process of accessing government information. Civil society organisations in many countries act as intermediaries, e.g. Germany's www.abgeordnetenwatch.de (Simply Ask Your Government), the EU's "Ask the EU" and Spain's upcoming tuderechoasaber.es.However, as discussed in the above paragraph, unless the overall context of transparency and accountability is addressed, technology is no more than a tool which can also be manipulated and encapsulate existing corruption.
4.1.2 Transparent budget information
A national budget is an implicit agreement between the government and the people where the government commits to provide specified public services in return for the draft it made on private resources. Citizens have the right to know how their funds are being collected, how it is being spent and what their governments’ priorities are (IBP 2010). They can rightfully ask the government for an efficient and equitable delivery of well‐intended services. Over the past two decades, governments made efforts to improve their budgeting system through the adaptation of Performance Budgeting, the Single Treasury Account and other reformation systems. More importantly, there has been a growing need and interest in making government budget information publicly available. Budget transparency is a fundamental cornerstone to accountability and providing efficient and effective government services. In addition, timely access to information opens up opportunities for citizens to participate in fiscal policy decision making that have significant impacts on their lives. 21
Open Budget Index The Open Budget Index (OBI) established in 2006 by the International Budget Partnership (IBP), evaluates how accessible and transparent countries’ budget documents and process are to their citizens and rates each country. IBP was established in 1997 by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to help non‐governmental organizations conduct budget analysis to make their budget systems more transparent and responsive in emerging democracies and developing countries. The OBI is based on the Open Budget Survey which focuses on the content and timeliness of a country’s eight key budget documents: Pre‐Budget Statement, Executive’s Budget Proposal, Enacted Budget, In‐Year Reports, Mid‐Year Review, Year‐End Report, Audit Report and Citizens Budget. OBI is designed to provide citizens, legislators and civil society advocates with relevant information needed to comprehensively and practically evaluate a government’s commitment to budget transparency and accountability. The OBI has been released by the IBP every two years since 2006 and encouraged governments make their budget more transparent. The 2010 Index was constructed by averaging the countries’ answers to the Open Budget Survey that included 123 questions (91 questions in 2008) relating to information contained in each country’s national budget documents that should be open to public. The number of survey participants has been on an upward trajectory. Carlitz (2010) adds that the OBI is particularly notable in that it explicitly incorporates advocacy into its research design, creating a network of civil society experts who conduct the research to inform the Index and then participate in various coordinated advocacy activities based on the OBI findings. The 2010 Open Budget Survey report found that 74 of the 94 countries assessed failed to meet the basic standards of transparency and accountability when it comes to their national budgets. Of those 74, 40 countries did not release any meaningful budget information. However, the average performance of these 40 countries has improved nearly 20 percent in a relatively short period of time over the course of three consecutive Open Budget Surveys. This is a notable achievement and a positive sign for future. The 2010 survey includes four key findings: 1. The overall state of budget transparency is poor. Only a modest minority of countries can be considered to have open budgets while a large number of countries provide grossly insufficient budget information. 2. The general trend toward open budgets is nonetheless favorable. Budget transparency is improving substantially, especially among countries that provided little information in the past.
3. Budget engagement by the audit institutions and the legislature is typically weak and is strongly correlated to the lack of budget information made available to these institutions and the public. 4. There are many simple steps to opening up budgets that governments are failing to undertake. Such steps can be taken by the executive branch, the legislature, and the supreme audit institutions alike. (IBP 2010, p.3‐7) In addition, according to the report there are correlation between democracy and transparency, also correlation between income and transparency so that countries that have strong budget transparency are generally high income countries, while countries that lack budget transparency have low income in general. However, it is not impossible for low income countries to achieve relatively high levels of budget transparency.
4.2 Auditing government information and services
4.2.1 Complaint mechanisms
Arguably, the most obvious form of complaint mechanism in democracies is that of elections. Elections provide an opportunity for citizens to exert their options of "exit, voice or loyalty" (Hirschman, 1970), either by voting for their political party, switching allegiance, or abstaining altogether. Rather than a purely "citizens with rights" perspective, therefore, elections also present a marketization reminder to politicians that citizens are consumers with choices. However, Ackerman identifies three major problems with elections: elections only hold elected officials accountable, whereas corruption may occur through appointed bureaucrats who are not directly accountable to the public through the electoral process; secondly, because elections occur every few years and include many opinions and evaluations, citizens tend to vote for an overall perspective; and finally, as many politicians are elected by only a small percentage of the population, they may pander to this segment only, encouraging a mutual patronage (Ackerman, 2004).
4.2.2 Citizen report cards and community scorecards
Citizen report cards (CRCs) are based on the premise that measuring quality and responsiveness of service providers in governance will spur these providers to improve (Deichmann & Lall, 2007). This is usually influenced by the "glare effect" of putting the services under the "public scanner" and shaming poor performers (Paul, 2006). Frequent executions of the report card also monitor performance improvement over the years (J. M. Ackerman, 2005). The underlying premise is therefore a shift from seeing citizens as beneficiaries to citizens as clients who provide customer feedback (J. M. Ackerman, 2005; Paul, 2006). The most well‐known case of citizen report cards is that implemented in Bangalore by the NGO Public Affairs Centre (Paul, 1998, 2006; Ravindra, 2004). The first citizens report card was attempted in 1993, which asked a sample population of 807 general 23
households and 327 poorer income households (both in the same localities) their satisfaction levels with government services. Amongst the public agencies for telephones, municipal corporation, electricity, water, health, regional transport, Bangalore Development Authority, public‐sector banks and regional transport office, the Bangalore Development Authority (responsible for property and house sites) was found to have 65% dissatisfied customers, the highest out of all the agencies. This was also found to have the highest percentage of corruption. It has been reported that although response from the agencies was "lukewarm", with five out of the eight agencies not showing interest or contradicting findings, it was the media which helped publicize the findings. The Times of India for example started a weekly feature for about two months, publicizing one of the study findings at a time (Paul, 1998). If immediate change was not seen in the agencies, Paul (1998) felt that this led to increased citizen awareness of widespread corruption problems, and greater public pressure on the agencies. Indeed, a second report card implemented by the PAC in 1999 showed a "partial improvement in public satisfaction" (Paul, 2006). Corruption levels appeared to have increased, however, in certain agencies. This second report card also appeared to have a more tangible impact, where within a few months of the report card, the chief minister of Karnataka (the state in which Bangalore is the capital) created the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) as a public‐private‐civil society forum (Paul, 2006). The third report card in 2003 showed a radical increase in satisfaction levels (between 64 and 96%) (J. M. Ackerman, 2005). Overall, the impact varied from agency to agency. Providing the report card information was only one part of the story, other factors that influenced how much impact the citizen report card had included leadership, resources and the institutional environment of each agency (Ravindra, 2004). Although citizen report cards were implemented in other countries including the Philippines and the Ukraine as well as other Indian cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai (Ravindra, 2004), there needs to be a more concerted effort on understanding the impact of these initiatives. Equally, a number of critiques have been made regarding CRCs. Firstly, it has been argued that these are not citizen led, but rather NGO led. In the case of Bangalore, a market research agency designed and executed the questionnaire in collaboration with the NGO, so it was not a truly participatory design. Secondly, it was argued that even in quantitative surveys, satisfaction is a subjective measure, dependent on expectations, and influenced by what respondents see in comparison to their neighbors or peers. In analyzing the Bangalore scorecard data for water services, Deichmann and Lall (2007) found that households better off than their neighbors tended to be more satisfied and vice versa. Therefore if service levels were relatively homogenous across a given locality, they were considered satisfactory, unless somebody can make a comparison with another level of service delivery. This was shown to be particularly the case in Peru, when conducted in a rural setting, as users had a limited knowledge of quality standards and challenge in comparing with other service providers. Therefore, it could be argued that CRCs are more effective in an urban rather than rural environment. Thirdly, it was argued that 24
CRCs do not achieve anything in themselves, largely because government service providers tend to be monopolistic. This could engender the attitude among citizens that nothing would change and they were at the mercy of these providers. Related to this, other stakeholders were necessary in order to publicize and pressurize, such as the media as seen in the Bangalore case. Making services transparent through CRCs can clearly have a wide impact. Paul (2006) states that one outcome was the incentive of inter‐agency competition, and employee pride in comparing with other agencies. He gives the example of a Bangalore public bus driver who told a customer "don't you know that the PAC has rated our transport service as the best amongst all the services in the city". According to Ravindra, the BDA (Bangalore Development Authority) and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board initiated training programs to improve customer‐oriented skills of their staff as a result of the second scorecard (Ravindra, 2004). However, as argued, it is difficult to attribute these changes and initiatives such as the BATF exclusively to the report card (J. M. Ackerman, 2005; Ravindra, 2004). Finally, it remains to be seen how much ICTs can be used to disseminate citizen report cards if these are revived. In contrast to citizen report cards, community scorecards appear to be more qualitative, participatory, and focused on immediate dialogue and policy making. Ackerman (2005) finds the following differences between CRCs and community scorecards: 25
The Citizen Report Card • Unit of analysis is the household/individual • Information collected via a survey questionnaire • Relies on formal stratified random sampling to ensure that the data is representative of the underlying population • The major output is the actual perceptions assessment of services in the form of the report card • The media plays the major role in generating awareness and disseminating information • Conducted at a more macro level (city, state or even national) • More useful in urban settings • Time horizon for implementation is long (about 3‐6 months) • Intermediary plays a large role in conducting the survey and data analysis • Feedback to providers and the government is at a later stage after media advocacy
The Community Scorecard • Unit of analysis is the community • Information collected via focus group interactions • Involves no explicit sampling. Instead the aim is to ensure maximum participation of the local community in the gathering of information. • Emphasis here is less on the actual scorecard and more on achieving immediate response and joint decision‐ making • Relies more heavily on grass‐roots mobilization to create awareness and invoke participation • Conducted at a micro/local level (village cluster, and set of facilities) • More useful in rural settings • Time horizon for implementation is short (about 3‐6 weeks) • Role of intermediary is mostly as facilitator of the exercise • Feedback to providers is almost immediate and changes are arrived at through mutual dialogue during the interface meeting
One example of community scorecard implementation is in Malawi, where scorecards are used in the health sector by the NGO CARE, in partnership with village leaders and members of Local Health Committees (comprising citizens concerned about health care in the local area). A list of indicators is jointly devised by all these stakeholders to evaluate local health centres, and participants are asked to rank the performance of the health centre against these indicators (J. M. Ackerman, 2005). Staff at the health centres go through a similar process, and while the indicators might be similar, as was the case in Malawi, the evaluations, presented at an "interface meeting" might be different, providing the opportunity to work together to design solutions. Evidence from the Malawi study showed improvement in centre service between the first and second scorecard processes, and that this improvement was attributed to the implementation of the scorecard. However, inevitably, questions can also be asked here, in particular that of the role of the intermediary (in this case CARE) in facilitating discussion and reaching agreement, and also how these local level initiatives can be scaled up. 26
4.2.3 Community Monitoring
A related, but different initiative to the score cards is community monitoring. This a process by which the community plays a ‘watchdog role’ in relation to service providers because of ineffective monitoring and weak accountability relationships(Bjorkman & Svensson, 2009). Rather than rate outcomes like with the scorecard, the idea of community monitoring is to monitor ongoing activities of public agencies. The theory of change is that community monitoring is supposed to ensure ongoing performance and quality of services such as monitoring of teacher or doctor attendance or ensuring that appropriate procedures are followed. Specifically, studies indicate that community monitoring has been useful in exposing instances of corruption or diversion of public resources. There are quite a few examples in which it has been reported that community monitoring has improved the quality of public services. This is based on the argument of “co‐governance” that civil society participation and strengthening the state apparatus are not mutually exclusive or contradictory. Community monitoring has also been found to be useful in monitoring the quality of schooling (Prew & Quaigrain, 2010). Prew and Quaigrain (2010) highlight community monitoring in a case study of school performance data driving school and education district office accountability. The case shows that the generation of school level data that can inform planning enables schools to monitor their performance in promoting access for children to school. Another example is Bangladesh, where Transparency International Bangladesh has set up CCCs (committees of concerned citizens) who monitor education and health services in specific geographic clusters. This case has been found to have an impact on service delivery. Duflo et al (2008) found that teacher attendance rates in India improved with improved incentives for teachers and strong accountability mechanisms. Schools were given cameras to photograph teachers at the beginning and end of each day. Teachers were given financial incentives that were linked to attendance rates. The study concludes that accountability mechanisms alone may not be sufficient to lead to responsiveness on the part of providers. Incentives and greater capacities often need to accompany accountability initiatives (Duflo, Hanna, & Ryan, 2008). Finally, the case of police and school reform in Chicago is another example of community monitoring and the evidence of impact (Ackerman, 2004). Through the inclusion and participation of civil society, the police force and schools improved their performance. However, this was not a straightforward process and they examine levels of accountability and look at the root causes of why the levels of citizen participation were lower than other cases.
4.2.4 Public hearings and social audits
Social audits are initiatives in which organizations audit public program through various mechanisms including public hearings. The case of MKSS in Rajasthan, India and RKS or Action Committee for rationing movement in Mumbai illustrate that “when reformist bureaucrats are faced with an active pro‐accountability movement in civil society, it is possible to make important inroads into the area of social auditing.” (Ackerman, 2004). Both of these organizations faced accountability problems in service delivery to the poor. The MKSS was a pioneer in holding public officials accountable for local level implementation of programs through the use of public hearings. These hearings are based on collecting information about the budget and expenditures, and verifying these in a public gathering with all the relevant stakeholders present (Joshi, 2010). There is strong evidence of impact on public services in these cases—mainly revealing discrepancies between official accounts and reality of practice. These initiatives empowered people to demand accountability and claim rights. The evidence is more mixed, however, on the impacts on quality of service itself.
4.2.5 Public Expenditure Monitoring
Public expenditure monitoring activities have a variety of forms and methodologies. Among them Carlitz (2010) notes that the most prominent example is the social audit scheme developed by the Indian social movement Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) founded in 1990 in Rajasthan, India's largest state. MKSS originally campaigned for the payment of the minimum wage in public work and later expanded its mission to 'Right to Information' campaign. After successful this campaign, the MKSS launched a participatory process for monitoring government programs in their communities by adopting social audit, public hearings and expenditure monitoring. (See the website of MKSS for more information on the initiative: http://www.mkssindia.org) There are other successful cases in Philippines and Malawi. The Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Government (CCAGG) in the Philippines aims to increase community participation in the monitoring of development programs and triggers an official government audit and expenditure monitoring. (See the website of CCAGG for more information: http://www.ccagg.com) In Malawi, an association of over 60 civil society groups, the Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education (CSCQBE) has monitored its progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in education section in particular. CSCQBE has conducted public expenditure tracking survey (PETS) every three years since 2002 and raised public awareness around reducing corruption and better monitored budget. (See the website of CSCQBE for more information: http://www.cscqbe.org) More importantly, PETS is the best known methodology developed in Uganda in the 1996 when 'aid leakages' at local schools prevailed. The Uganda PETS is one of the most frequently mentioned successful cases of anti‐corruption in developing country (Sundet, 2008). The strength of the PETS is its simple methodology and quantitative analysis. It 28
has inspired a large number of similar initiatives in other countries including Tanzania where PETS was conducted for tracking non‐wage recurrent expenditure, known as Other Charges (OC), in the education and health sector in 1999.
4.3 Public participation in budget
4.3.1 Participatory budgeting
Although more and more governments are making budgets transparent, there is a growing acknowledgement of the necessities of public engagement in budgeting. Budget transparency and accountability strategies include the now well‐known participatory budget approach (PB), as well as gender budgeting, public expenditure monitoring, participatory auditing, the use of the Open Budget Index, and other forms of budget advocacy (McGee & Gaventa, 2010). Among them, we will examine participatory budgeting and gender budgeting. With each initiative, we will look at the definition, its impact and factors of success and limitations. In the last two decades, it has been a growing belief that broader participation in budget setting is essential for effective, democratic and relevant local governance. Governments started to support information sharing between citizens and local governments. This helped strengthen the ties between communities that have an interest in discussing local budgets, authorities and statutory agencies such as the health services and police. Ackerman defines participatory budgeting as determining budget allocations as efficiently and transparently as possible by ensuring that budget decisions reflect consensus‐determined priorities and removing information barriers between state and society (J. M. Ackerman, 2005). Public Affairs Foundation defines PB more broadly as a mechanism or process whereby citizens participate directly in the different phases of budget formulation, decision making, and monitoring of budget execution. Participatory budgeting can be instrumental in increasing the transparency of public expenditure and in improving budget targeting (Sirker and Cosi, 2007). Participatory budgeting is different from a regular budget planning process in that it establishes a reciprocal process in which the diverse actors give feedback to directly impact policy change and distribution of public resources. It is beyond a simple consultation of fiscal policies or lobbying, but a direct participation in a decision making process in democratic way. More importantly participatory budgeting is noteworthy because it addresses two distinct but interconnected needs: firstly, improving state performance and secondly, enhancing the quality of democracy (Shah, 2007). Participatory budgeting began in 1989 in the municipality of Porto Alegre, the capital of Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. The Union of Residents’ Associations of Porto Alegre (UAMPA) first advocated the introduction of a state‐society collaboration mechanism in the city in 1986. It began to be adopted in other cities under the Workers’ Party in the early 1990s. Local governments throughout Latin America began using 29
participatory budgeting shortly thereafter, especially after 1996, when the United Nations Habitat II Conference in Istanbul recognized Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting as one of 42 best practices in urban governance (Shah, 2007). Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting incident became an exemplary case. Since 1989, the Porto Alegre city government has held the people accountable for over 10% of its annual budget, and had normal citizens participate in the intense negotiation process of setting priorities for government investment in infrastructure and basic social services (Ackerman, 2004). The significance of this event is that it was an arrangement where normal citizens were invited to be a part of the government beyond a “co‐production,” while maintaining a healthy balance between decentralization and supervision. Depending on how strictly one defines it, PB has expanded from about 12 cities mostly in Brazil to between 250 and 2,500 locales in Latin America alone (Goldfrank, 2006). While Latin America has the most extensive usage and rapid development of participatory budgeting, there are several meaningful case studies in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and also Western Europe including England and Germany (Shah, 2007). Broadly speaking the impacts of Participatory Budgeting on transparency and accountability are: 1. enhanced participatory democracy 2. improved quality as well as the quantity of budget information to citizens by making them more accessible and developing citizen’s capacity to analyze and influence government budgets, 3. reduced possibilities for corruptive behavior and political use of government budget through providing alternative channels for civil society 4. better decisions tailored to citizen’s need 5. increased budget and administrative transparency 6. enhanced the citizens’ trust in government’s activity Although participatory budgeting became a wide‐reaching, global phenomenon with its potential benefits (Sirker and Cosi, 2007), there are still major constraints and concerns related to the use of participatory budgeting. Carlitz (2010) cites a number of potential limitations: 1) risk of co‐optation (Abers, 2000) and 2) distortion of public opinion due to misrepresentation of society because civil society organizations (CSO) engaged in PB are not always representative of society at large (Heimans, 2002 ). Furthermore, there exist institutional barriers such as discretionary provisions of PB adoption and implementation and lack of time as a more time consuming ‘bottom‐up’ participatory model. 30
Carlitz (2010) points out pre‐conditions in a success of PB initiatives: 1) political will (i.e. supportive local officials), 2) social capital, 3) bureaucratic competence, 4) small size, 5) sufficient resource, 6) legal foundation and 7) political decentralization. Furthermore the accordance between the ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ side for accountability is a crucial factor for success of PB. Beyond transparency and accountability initiatives and participatory budgeting, there has been substantial growth in monitoring public expenditure by citizens for the purpose of promoting equity in managing government’s budget.
4.3.2 Gender Budgeting
Actual budgeting is the consequence of political negotiations on how government's budgets are allocated and spent. Therefore the budget corresponds to the map of power in society and reflects gender relations as well as power relations between women and men. In this sense, governments have been adopting approaches for public expenditure in more gender equitable ways. The Public Affairs Foundation defines participatory gender budgeting as the use of gender analysis to evaluate the impact of budgets on females and males to assess whether budgets respond to the needs of both women and men adequately (Sirker and Cosi, 2007). Similarly, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women uses a term ‘Gender‐responsive budgeting (GRB)’ as a government planning, programming and budgeting that contributes to the advancement of gender equality and the fulfillment of women's rights (http://www.gender‐budgets.org). In theory, gender responsive budgeting can have a considerable impact on developing countries with a large gender gap, particularly in participatory budgeting. However, the success of gender budgeting is as yet under researched. The need of information and communication technology (ICT) in participatory budgeting is increasing. While traditional participatory budgeting such as Porto Alegre’s doesn’t necessarily utilize the advantage of ICT, it is clear that ICTs provide an opportunity for citizen‐government connection and government transparency. ICT, in particular the internet, can be democratic tool with ease of access, great data capacity and two‐sided interaction and revolutionizes the accessibility and transparency of information. We will look in detail about how ICT contribute to better accountability and transparency in the technologies for transparency section with a case study of the ‘d‐Brain’, digital budgeting and accounting system in Korea.
4.4 Dialogue and activism
Arguably, the element of engagement in transparency and accountability that proves most challenging to bring to fruition without ICTs is dialogue and activism. There are of course innumerable cases of NGOs and other civil society organisations which spearhead citizen activism with regard to government transparency and accountability. For example, in Peru, "roundtables for attacking poverty" were established bringing together government officials and civil society representatives in 2001, where concerns could be raised (J. M. Ackerman, 2005). In Indonesia, Ackerman (2005) reports of a Justice for the Poor initiative, which works on strengthening transparency in several legal areas (e.g. nonstate village level dispute resolution). However, these mechanisms require a number of preconditions: laws to protect those who complain, a strong and independent media willing to take up causes, a vociferous civil society caucus, championing individuals, and a government which is willing to respond to complaints. Currently, there is a strong movement in India to pass stronger anticorruption laws. A bill to form an independent anticorruption Lokpal (ombudsman) has been presented to Parliament several times since 1968, but has always been rejected. The NGO India against Corruption has been campaigning for revised laws, a movement which came to a head in April 2011, when a prominent 74‐year‐old social activist, Anna Hazare went on hunger strike, followed by hundreds of people across India, until the government agreed (four days after the fast began) to form a committee to pass stronger laws. Although such a law was drafted, Hazare and his supporters rejected this on the grounds of being too superficial. Momentum gathered across India, as Mumbai's taxi union kept all the taxis off the street on 16 August in sympathy, Hazare undertook indefinite hunger strike, joined by many also striking in public areas, and chanting "I am Anna Hazare", similar to the chant of "I am Khaled Said”, the protest against the 28‐year‐old Egyptian who criticised the government, and was subsequently murdered, a trigger according to many for the Egyptian revolution in early 2011. The case continues, and the bill is currently under negotiation, but Hazare's tactics have been severely criticised by many, as being "non‐democratic". The dialogue and activism discussed above is an area in which ICTs theoretically provide the greatest benefit, both through a multiplier effect of many citizens becoming aware of and therefore participating in initiatives, and because of the speed of technology, and the virality with which social movements can spread. However, again, unless the overall structure is addressed, technologies are merely a tool. We discuss this in the next section.
5 Technologies for transparency, accountability and participation
All of the examples outlined in the section above do not necessarily rely on ICTs to promote transparency and accountability. We will now turn to be types of ICTs which have been used for the basis of promoting accountability and transparency. The aim throughout is to investigate whether ICTs add value to the process of accountability and transparency in the provision of government information and services. We analyze the different cases based on the technology platform as shown in Figure 3 below.
These initiatives rely on a range of technologies, including PCs, smart phones, feature phones and are increasingly working across a compute continuum. (For example, citizens may input text based SMS messages about election results. This may link with web‐based interactive map that provide real‐time data for richer viewing experiences on PCs). These initiatives often depend upon internet access, with 3G networks and broadband playing an increasingly important role as internet access becomes more widespread.
5.1 Websites and wikis
5.1.1 Public Information or Transparency Campaigns
One of the greatest benefits of information technology, particularly the Internet, is the ability to gather crowd power to raise issues of transparency. Many of these efforts focus on publicizing public information or transparency campaigns. For example, this may be a case of publicising non‐governmental initiatives, e.g. in the United States, or http://www.reportpubliccorruption.org http://www.ipaidabribe.com in India. The latter is supported by the Bangalore‐based NGO Janaagraha, where ordinary citizens register the market price of bribery anonymously (Bangalore currently being listed as the city with the highest amount of corruption, although this could be because the website is based here, and has generated the greatest publicity here). Inevitably, these campaigns are also only effective if they are allowed by the governments themselves. An article reports that a PR individual who copied the Janaagraha model in China (www.ibribery.com) shut down the website after censors blocked access to it within China (Associated Press, 2011). Blogging has been seen as a powerful tool for citizen participation in governance, not only reaching a global audience, but also interactive, with the ability to leave comments. Blogging (including from mobile phones) and posting on social networking sites has been exemplified during the Arab Spring in 2010 and 2011. However, there needs to be more systematic research on the variety, process and impact of blogging ‐ who blogs? Who reads blogs? What impact do these blogs have? What impact do wikis have? The website http://fightcorruption.wikidot.com was started by an Indian civil servant's wife in 2007 when her husband revealed corruption amongst senior Indian Administrative Service officials. However, the reluctance in China of these initiatives illustrates that citizen participation in public information/transparency campaigns are not always welcomed, i.e. the wider governance structure needs to be democratic (J. M. Ackerman, 2005). Whistleblowing websites are highly susceptible: for example, paying bribes in themselves is a criminal offence, and although these websites are intended to be anonymous, if the individuals can be traced, they would be convicted of criminal offences. On the other hand, if there is no accountability itself (Janaagraha states that it does not verify information posted), then false accusations can be made. Finally, one positive finding comes from Mexico's online access to information system. Several right to information initiatives worldwide use ICT platforms, although there is as yet insufficient research as to whether requests for information online are more transparent and fair than those made in person. Lagunes (2009) conducted a randomized experiment in 2007 by sending out information requests via Mexico's online access to information system, Sistema de Solicitudes de Información, or SISI. He found that although half the requests were sent under the name of a wealthy, powerful businessman (sharing his surname with a well‐known high‐ranking Mexican politician), and half by a regular male civilian with a popular Mexican surname, they received very similar treatment in terms of response times, answers to questions and so on, indicating 34
that there could be a possibility of less discrimination through the use of ICT and therefore, perhaps preventing the harassing of activists or civilians requesting data in person as reported in India above(Lagunes, 2009).
5.1.2 Tracking voting records/politicians
Similarly, the Indian site Mumbai Votes (http://mumbaivotes.com/), and the Brazilian Adote um vereador (http://vereadores.wikia.com/wiki/P%C3%A1gina_principal) both attempt to track local politicians, and compare achievements against promises made. On Mumbai Votes, a red, orange and green flag system is used to indicate poor, mediocre and satisfactory performance (the criteria used for these are published on the website). There are currently (August 2011) 1445 politicians being tracked. Users can click on MPs, MLAs and corporators in any one of Mumbai's 187 constituencies to see their track record. Vivek Gilani, an environmental engineer by training, who founded the site in 2004, is quoted as saying the inspiration for the site came from innumerable train journeys from the suburbs to the center of Mumbai, where he had to pass the stench of Mahim Creek and the realization that "we are the people we have been waiting for" (Mumbai votes, 2011). Instead of blind voting based on perception, opinion, gossip, and personal charisma, he wanted voting to be more informed and based on results achieved by politicians (Mumbai votes, 2011). The website and initiative has elicited much media attention, and provides an extremely innovative method of tracking politicians, which would have been impossible off‐line both in terms of depth, breadth and the real‐time updating. Adote um vereador, started in 2009 in São Paulo, adopts a similar principle, but a different format (in this case, wiki‐based), where local politicians are tracked by citizen "adopters" who blog about their activities. However, one critique has been that adopters do not know what to blog about (and in fact may simply act as public relations representatives) (Angélico, 2010). Secondly, the politicians may not see these as legitimate concerns. A second call has been that adopters work more efficiently in a group, e.g. pick a topic on a monthly basis, rather than blogging individually (Angélico, 2010). A detailed analysis of the website by a Portuguese speaker is needed, as it is currently only available in Portuguese.
5.1.3 Digital budgeting
As mentioned in section 3.1.2, governments are becoming more open about sharing budget information, and the Internet provides the ideal space to do so. Transparency and accountability can be easily improved through public participation in the budget process by posting existing budget information online. Publishing governments’ budget document online and also making internet accessible to CSOs and local government will show improved OBI measures. 35
Mongolia has also achieved a significant improvement as its score on the OBI doubled from 18 in the 2006 Survey to 36 in 2008 and further increased to 60 in the 2010 Survey. The remarkable improvement is primarily due to the fact that the government started publishing budget documents that had previously not been open to the public online. These included the Executive’s Budget Proposal and the reintroduction of public Year‐ End Reports in 2008. Additionally, the Mongolian Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) recently began making its Audit Reports available to the public on its new website. The government only needed to make the additional effort to publish the Executive Budget Proposal online, while the proposal was already existent for internal use prior to 2007. In addition, evidence for improvements in budget transparency can be attributed to the technical assistance provided to countries and increased technical capacity of the staff within the Ministry of Finance in a country. For example, experts from international development agencies or donor funding to support greater transparency helped advance public finance management reforms in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and Rwanda (IBP, 2010). The case of D‐Brain in Korea: Digital budgeting and accounting system http://www.digitalbrain.go.kr The Republic of Korea ranks first in both the e‐Government Development Index and e‐ Participation Index from the UN Global E‐Government Survey 2010. Backed by its strength in ICT, Korea adopted the Digital Budget & Accounting System (d‐Brain) early on in 2007 and has positioned itself as the leading model for innovative digital budgeting ever since. The d‐Brain is an integrated web‐based system providing the public real time analysis on government’s fiscal activities including budget formulation, execution, account settlement and performance management. This system enables a better use of the national budget by reducing duplicative expenditure, leading the nation towards a more efficient fiscal policy. Especially, the transparent nature of the system enables policy makers, as well as the public, to easily access the necessary budget information to validate the accuracy and reliability of the budgeting records. The significance of this system is that it allows participatory budgeting where the central government, local governments, public institutions and the public collaboratively decide on the allocation of resources and participate in nationwide fiscal decision making. Prior to d‐Brain, Korea went through several budgeting and accounting difficulties: 1. Despite the change in economic and social structure over the past 50 years, the budgeting accounting system was designed to fit early years of modernization. 2. There were no basis and technological system for strategic distribution of national resources as information sharing among the central government, local governments and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance (MOSF) was nonexistent 36
3. Feedback system for budget execution and performance were unsatisfactory, delaying the process to rectify inefficiency These issues have brought upon the need for a budgeting and accounting system based on ICT that would make participatory decision making possible through real time interaction among all elements of the society. The d‐Brain and web‐based participatory budgeting system insures citizen’s participation mechanism through whole budget cycle from budget preparation to audit. Citizen participate in the process of budgeting through internet surveys, on‐line bulletin board which sometimes could arise public opinion, on‐line bidding, cyber forum, d‐ budget participation corner, public hearings and so on. In addition, Budget Waste Report Center is offering a hot‐line and on line system open to citizen to prevent central government agencies and local government offices from misbehaving their budget duties through citizen participation. If any allegedly reported example is turn to be true, budget saving incentive bonus, at most $30,000, is prized to the citizen reporter (Hwang, 2008). Two fundamental reasons behind the success of the d‐Brain case is the nationwide ICT infrastructure and high ICT literacy. First, with strong political will to promote demand for broadband connectivity and to make large investments in the e‐government platform, Korea achieved the world’s second largest broadband penetration in early 2000 (ITU, 2003). Since 2003, Korea provides most services over the Web, and leads the world in e‐elections and e‐voting. The easy access to relevant information and government services further created demand for high‐speed connections. dBrain’s case highlights the need for government to have an active role in promoting the demand for internet based government activity. Demand side policies are often overlooked in broadband policies or limited to e‐government, digital budgeting initiatives. The Korean government has engaged in multiple programs to create demand subsidizing ICT training, ICT hardware, broadband connectivity and incentivizing private sectors to participate in the project. Secondly, while lower ICT literacy can be the biggest obstacle for development of ICT based innovation in most countries, Korea’s world highest internet user rate as a percentage of population (measured by ‘Ten Million People Internet Education Project’ in 2000), played a great role in the actual usage of the d‐ Brain. The government promoted ICT literacy by including computer literacy as requirement for entering colleges. This sets an exemplary case in ways to increase ICT literacy for developing countries where low ICT literacy capabilities impede demand for e‐government. The other fact that makes the case of d‐Brain unique is that the initiative was supported by both the private and public sector. While the Korean government was the driving force of the project Samsung and LG CNS provided state of the art ICT technology. This 37
collaborative effort made the project to have a synergistic effect well worth over its cost of $63 million. The d‐Brain acts as the middleman for the central government, local government and public agency to exchange information about the respective processes of fiscal activity and provide them the basis for strategic planning. It allows treasury operations to be more efficient by providing a transparent real time processing between agencies (i.e. Electronic Fund Transfer module) and makes their payment collecting process easier and faster (i.e. Electronic Bill Presentment & Payment module). The most important impact of d‐Brain is that anyone can easily retrieve an accurate picture of public institution’s fiscal activity at any point in time. This is used for monitoring progress on nationwide projects and making improvements to them as the project unfolds. Also this provides the public detailed information on what the government’s expenditure are on different major nationwide projects. In addition, the relevant actors of the government fiscal process have been satisfied with the fiscal process. The rate of public participation in fiscal policy decision making has increased as people are now able to easily access information regarding government spending. People are interested in fiscal activities as more efficient use of funds by the government is directly linked to lowering their taxation. For the congress, it has become easier than ever to review budgeting and payment information on the different sub‐ ministry. Lastly, the budget authority is also able to make accurate budgeting decisions, due to their increased ability to review financial statements of previous projects in detail. They are able to better predict each expenditure line item of a future project, by which means it can also systematically manage the financial risk of the project. While d‐Brain have been successful in realizing and meeting the national financial information needs and positioning itself as a world class financial information system, there is room for improvements to be made. Firstly, the government needs to assess new areas that can be linked to the system and reflect it in the system to continuously maintain the efficiency of the system. Secondly, although public participation rate has increased, it has shown that they have the tendency to remain as a passive user only making electronic payments and transfers. The public institutes will have to devise a way for them to become more active participants in the fiscal decision making process. Websites and wikis provide an ideal tool for making information transparent, auditing government services, as well as for dialogue and activism. The strongest advantage (and perhaps also the most unpredictable) of Internet‐based campaigns is their “virality”, i.e. the speed by which these initiatives proliferate and gather momentum. However, firstly preconditions are needed for online transparency campaigns: a strong civil society caucus, civic minded coders or "techies", a public which is willing to believe that corruption can be challenged and transparency necessary, rather than accept the 38
former as a way of life, and most importantly, a technologically literate population. In the case of Mumbai Votes, many politicians have very little information listed against their profiles, which points to both a lack of resources in updating this, and perhaps a lack of critical mass from the general public. Secondly, there is a question over the factuality of the information being posted. In July 2011, a Minister accused the Mumbai Votes website of being inaccurate, and that it should have checked the information with the local government first (Sarkaritel.com, 2011). However, whether accurate or not, what the website achieved in this case was raising the issue of transparency of government information, and initiated a dialogue between the government and citizens. Finally, the issue of the digital divide again emerges: one user comments of Mumbai Votes that it is very useful for those who have Internet access, but it is the poor (the user specifically points to the large slum population of Mumbai) who may be poorly informed but more vulnerable to political corruption (Chityal, 2011), a comment which could be leveled at any online initiative. Therefore, it could be argued that such websites perpetuate a cycle of elitist participation, which only really benefits the upper and middle classes. Although in a 2010 interview, Gilani stated that Mumbai Votes is producing an off‐line "telephone directory" type guide of politicians (Singh, 2010), it has been argued that corruption affects poorer demographics more (Knox, 2009). They are the ones to be less likely to use online initiatives, due to the lack of a combination of factors including access to ICTs, confidence in using them, a sense of security in making complaints, and basic literacy. In this case, they may rely on the intermediation of government information and services, and more research needs to be conducted on the role of these intermediaries. Theoretically, an intermediary or kiosk operator at a village community telecentre in India may be aware of a site such as www.Ipaidabribe.com, but the extent to which this is used depends on how much he/she translates and publicizes the concept, is willing to register complaints on behalf of others, and the relationship of trust between user and intermediary.
5.2 Social media
5.2.1 Publicizing Information and Organizing Crowds
In many cases, transparency and accountability initiatives use existing social media. For example, Ipaidabribe.com uses numerous platforms including Facebook and Twitter. However, critical mass still needs to be achieved in the case: their web page on Facebook had 10,796 supporters (on 13 September 2011), a small percentage of the estimated 13 million Facebook users in India (although this could be because the initiative is less than one year old). On the other hand, the NGO India against Corruption, backing Anna Hazare's movement for stronger anticorruption laws, has over 518,559 followers, multiple chapters across the world, and has hosted several online and off‐line events (13 September 2011). However, the same issues arise here as in the 39
case of nonsocial media specific websites: who are those using social media? Are they already the more educated, civic minded, technologically literate segments of the population? What impact do such movements have? “Arab Spring” showed that “the mouse is mightier than the sword”. Two key roles social media plays are in publicizing information, using the power of crowds to vocalize a perspective and its ability to organize crowds. Both Facebook and Twitter were widely used by crowds organizing where to convene in the events during “Arab Spring.” About 17 million people in the Arab region are using Facebook available in Arabic1, with 5 million in Egypt alone2, and demand is expected to grow on micro‐blogging sites. These platforms enabled groups of people to organize, gather, and provide a singular voice of protest to government policies.
5.2.2 Deepening Democracy and Long‐Term Impact
Examples where social media become the tools to demand transparency and accountability are not limited to authoritarian and relatively less democratized states and countries where internet penetration rates have been recently increasing. According to Nielsen Korea, 82.8% Korean netizens have used social media of whom 75% cited Cyworld which Korean top internet SNS, 32% Twitter and 32% Facebook etc3, and those SNSs take a critical role in organizing crowds. The 2008 Candlelight Vigil of South Korea demonstrates how social media and internet effectively impact people to act on political decisions. The gathering originally started as an on‐line discussion about the opposing views on the US‐Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), particularly regarding beef imports. Concerns and news about the mad cow disease were shared and reported rapidly through the Internet. Candlelight Vigil was organized through social media and social network services (SNS). The protest lasted for two months and had far‐reaching effects; it eventually even triggered the movement for impeachment of the president. Webcast internet service such as Afreeca and Radio21 broadcasted the protest live. More importantly, most video streams were self‐broadcasted by citizens and spread from one SNS to another, including YouTube, Facebook and Daum. These were much faster and powerful in transmitting the news than the traditional media channels. Approximately 200 million viewers connected to those videocast. This incident shows that SNS could also contribute to advancing democracy in an already democratic
“Facebook Population: Arabic The Fastest Growing, English Falls from The Majority Leadership,” Arab Crunch, August 30, 2010, http://arabcrunch.com/2010/08/facebook‐population‐arabic‐the‐fastest‐ growing‐english‐falls‐from‐the‐majority‐leadership.html “Egypt Facebook community largest in Arab world,” Spot‐On Public Relations, January 26, 2011, http://www.pitchengine.com/spotonpr/egypt‐facebook‐community‐largest‐in‐arabworld/120523/
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country. While the revolutions in Arab Spring were attempts to eliminate dictatorship to establish democracy, the candle protest in South Korea represents a more advanced form of participatory democracy. The impact of social media can be more powerful under the following features: 1. Emotional narrative can be adopted. Again, it is crucial not to confuse tools and motivations as Ghanam emphasizes4. An accessible emotional narrative of action such as anti‐corruption, democracy, transparency and accountability calls for people’s participation. Berki, Dunn, Oguzertem, Su and Upreti (2011) states ‘individuals who feel they can relate to an injustice committed against one another are more likely to participate in collective action.’ (Berki, 2011) 2. On‐line communication can be executed through an off‐line action. It is important to use the social media and internet to get off the internet. 3. Not only access to information and ICT infrastructure but also internet literacy and informational capability is critical in guaranteeing the positive impact of transparency and accountability initiatives. Social media has increased a freedom of expression and association to the degree that individual and collective capacities to communicate, mobilize, and gain technical knowledge are expected to lead to even greater voice, political influence, and participation over the next 10 years. Although social media will clearly have a critical role in decentralizing power and increasing transparency and accountability, it cannot be a panacea. In addition to digital divide we discussed in section 4.1, the issue of big brother emerges again. Berki, Dunn, Oguzertem, Su and Upreti (2011) points out that ‘repressive regimes are not only capable of blocking access to certain internet outlets, but also becoming increasingly adept at manipulating them to their advantage.’ That is to say, while recent ICT revolution, the use of internet and World Wide Web, has expanded the range of topics and ability of communication enabling citizens to have more political freedom and power, it also makes it easy for a 'big brother' to keep watch on the citizens more accurately and widely, infringing individual's freedom more so than the traditional media. In Cairo, when Hosini Mubarak allowed again mobile phone and internet access, he sent text messages to all registered mobile phone users in Egypt with his intended patriotic slogans. It shows how regimes may first try to oppress by utilizing technology. Last but not the least, because information on the social media can be spread much faster, often times news spread without verification could cause ‘netizens’ to be misled by false information. Thus, it is important to recognize that while ICT could increase
"In the Middle East, this is not a Facebook revolution", Washington Post, February 18, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp‐dyn/content/article/2011/02/18/AR2011021802935.html
freedom and be a tool for transparency and accountability, it is necessary to minimize possible disadvantages that could be caused by it.
5.3 Interactive mapping
5.3.1 Mapping Election Results
Data visualization and navigation tools are a key feature in technology for accountability initiatives. These tools are used on mobile phone platforms and websites in various ways and help people make sense of data through a geographic lens. Data visualization is used for different purposes such as mapping election violence and results. Elections are a major space in which interactive mapping has had a prominent impact and are directly related to the arena of transparency and accountability. These are used to detect fraud, discrepancies in voting and to report violence. Ushahidi, one of the most well‐known free platforms allows people to send in reports via e‐mail, text message, Twitter, or a web form. The software then displays the reports on a map and on a timeline. The visualization was originally used in the post‐election violence in Kenya to map reports of violence. The underlying theory was to use citizens with mobile phones to report violence and destruction locally, rather than relying on national or international media, with mashups capturing these maps for posterity, to understand political hotspots for the future. But it was adapted to monitor elections themselves and has been used to map voting irregularities in several place including Afghanistan and Lebanon. Ushahidi‐based projects, such as Sudan Vote Monitor, Cuidemos el Voto in Mexico, Eleitor 2010 in Brazil, Vote Report PH in the Philippines, and Amatora mu Mahoro in Burundi, created visuals on maps and timelines based on data received from citizens and election monitors, In Sri Lanka, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) reports election‐related violence and irregularities in voting. The gathers information from ground and publishes candidates and political parties involved in any irregularities or violence. This enables voters to make informed decisions using this detailed published information. The organization uses maps, audio podcasts and blog posts to raise awareness, create debate and gather information. Similarly, mapping has been used to show the discrepancies between official voting of legislative bills in a certain area with actual citizens votes (Vote na Web).
5.3.2 Citizen Reporting issues
Similarly, Seeclickfix is a large‐scale "free mobile phone and web tool that allows citizens to report and document nonemergency issues to communicate them to those accountable for the public space" (SeeClickFix, 2011). The idea is that citizens in the United States and Canada can report problems such as potholes in roads, traffic light signaling problems, garbage disposal, lack of road marking etc on the website. These issues are then passed on to the relevant party: for example, the local political representative or utility company. Started in March 2008 in New Haven, Connecticut, the website states that it is based on the principles of empowerment, efficiency and 42
engagement, and encourages a "self‐reinforcing loop" as the government cannot be in all places all the time. Those who participate in fixing neighborhood problems, and see them being fixed, are more likely to get involved (SeeClickFix, 2011). Non‐emergency issues are traditionally reported in the US by citizens dialing 311, when they are put through to an operator, and given a unique service request ID. The 311 service appears to be most commonly used in New York, where it was implemented in 2003, and reportedly fields over 50,000 calls a day (Johnson, 2010). Callers can then call 311 back repeatedly until the issue is resolved. SeeClickFix appears to differ in three main ways. Firstly, rather than the citizen chasing up the issue, they receive e‐mail alerts with status updates on their problem. Secondly, they can see all the problems reported in their neighborhood on a map, seeing their issue in context. Finally, they can set up a "watch area" which they can receive updates on, therefore establishing a more concerted group effect. The team behind the website have already released Blackberry, Android and iPhone apps for citizen reporting (SeeClickFix, 2011). Seeclickfix is said to have been inspired by the British equivalent, FixMyStreet (FixMyStreet, 2011). This is a similar intermediary website, designed by the non‐profit mySociety (http://www.mysociety.org/), where a problem reported online is sent to the local UK council. Similar facilities of anybody being able to update, and alerts sent to those who sign up are provided. It is also gradually being integrated with UK councils, where users can click through from council websites to the FixMyStreet site, (e.g. http://barnet.fixmystreet.com/). However, technologically, the site does not appear as sophisticated or interactive as SeeClickFix. There are a number of queries about the effectiveness of websites such as SeeClickFix and FixMyStreet. Firstly, the traditional North American 311 services are also available online, for example the New York City 311 facility (311 Online, 2011) so there may be a question of overlap. Many UK councils also have multiple outlets, in addition to their own sites, such as through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. However, like FixMyStreet, SeeClickFix is also working with local authorities (and the more traditional 311) in cities such as Toronto (Toronto 311, 2011) and Washington DC (The District of Columbia 311 online, 2011) where the off‐line and online systems are being integrated. It could also be asked how effective such websites are, or if in fact, they prolong the complaints procedure through this "re‐intermediation" rather than the relevant local authority being contacted directly. Thirdly, again, a negative element of the "self‐ reinforcing loop" could be that such websites exacerbate the digital divide, where those who are technologically literate, and have access to websites and mobile tools are the ones who get issues resolved (Donnelly, 2010). However, Ben Berkowitz, one of the co‐ founders, cites examples of reports from "traditionally underserved communities" using the tool, such as a woman reporting three drug dealers from a low income housing project, and New Haven police conducting a drugs raid from information on SeeClickFix (Donnelly, 2010). Of course, the opposite is also possible, that such websites have no effect. All these issues certainly deserve greater research, particularly the question of 43
just how much impact such citizen‐based websites are having. Although the SeeClickFix website details success stories of how quickly issues were resolved once they were reported on the website, there has been no systematic study of causality, or a comparison of the nondigital and digital mechanisms. However, what is clear is that one of the greatest benefits of these websites is their popularization of a technologically savvy civic participation, perhaps especially the traditionally disenchanted younger generations. SeeClickFix for example has received extensive media attention and linkups, e.g. (Boston.com, 2011; The Dallas Morning News, 2011; The Inquirer Digital, 2011; The New York Times local, 2011).
5.3.3 Crime Mapping
Interactive mapping and visualizations are also used in mapping crime. CIPER uses data visualization as a tool to tell the story of crime. It maps where and how different types of robberies take place in Chile. This includes crimes accompanied by violence that take place in Santiago. 5 Similarly, websites like Oakland Crimespotting and EveryBlock automatically uses crime report data from police department websites and displays it on a map interface. This can be filtered by time, location, and crime type. This enables people to understand the spread of crime across location and time. (Avila)
5.3.4 Budgets and Financial Transactions
A third area of interactive mapping is with budgets and financial transactions. Mapping can be used to display which organizations and individuals have donated to a specific candidate’s campaign (Dinero y Política). Dinero y Política aggregates real time data with the servers of electoral authorities. Some data navigation tools rely little, if at all, on visualization techniques such as graphs and charts. Another example of interactive mapping with financial transactions is the Budget Tracking Tool in Kenya. Using this tool, citizens submit text messages containing their geographic district. They then receive a response that outlines the amount of money that has been earmarked for development projects in their particular district. It is also possible to see a district by district breakdown of allocated funds via the project’s website. Visualizations are also used to map marginalized communities which have been targets of development agencies, yet have not previously been mapped. Map Kibera in Kibera, Kenya is an example where a team of activists used GPS systems and open source software to create a map of a community. They use maps to visualize daily water costs, which are often on average ten times more expensive than the average wealthy Kenyan neighborhood. This type of platform can be used by the citizens of Kenya to put pressure on their government. But it can also be used by citizens to directly improve
CIPER Chile, “Mapa del robo: Dónde y cómo se roba en Santiago [Robbery Map: Where and how robberies take place in Santiago],” http://ciperchile.cl/wp‐ content/uploads/multimedia/multimedia_delincuencia/portada_delincuencia.html (accessed September 20, 2010).
their communities and give community members knowledge and insight without depending on public officials.
5.3.5 The Case of Sithi: Mapping Human Rights Violations
http://transparency.globalvoicesonline.org/project/sithi Sithi (which means ‘rights in Khmer) is a Cambodian human rights portal initiated by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. Sithi.org aims to create a single map‐based database of human rights violations reports. Sithi.org has two overarching goals. First, it aims to encourage civil society organizations and the human rights professional community in Cambodia to be more effective with the provision of information and resources to encourage greater specialism and collaboration. Its second goal is to provide information on the human rights violations in Cambodia to increase awareness and understanding of the situation in the country. The higher goals are to mobilize action to protect and promote human rights through collaboration and advocacy. It receives funding from USAID, Asia Foundation, Open Society Institute, East West Management Institute, and the British Embassy in Phnom Penh. Their interactive map illustrates human rights violations, numbers of journalists killed, numbers of members of parliament, and rape cases reported in the newspapers in Khmer and English. Contributors include human rights activists, organizations and citizens from across the country. Users can submit reports about human rights violations in the categories of judicial fairness, land tenure, and freedom of expression. Civil society organizations welcomed Sithi.org as a way to highlight which human rights violations are taken seriously by the government. (http://transparency.globalvoicesonline.org/project/sithi) The organization has faced constraints of low internet penetration lack of web designers as well as challenges of building trust among NGO partners. According to Avila (2010), Sithi.org is trying to get local bloggers to assist in the project in order to spread awareness. They found that by giving more visible recognition to NGO partners, they may be more willing to participate. Additionally the researchers noted that the organization should approach donors to create “a strategic fund where NGOs, mostly having common donors, will need to link to each other on human rights advocacy effort".
5.4 SMS and Voice Based Reporting
5.4.1 Citizen Reporting Issues with Service Delivery
Two initiatives which have gained publicity recently are based on SMS and voicemail. Daraja, a non‐profit based in Tanzania, encourages citizen reporting that enables citizens to publicize failures and issues with service delivery to make governments more accountable (www.daraja.org). Currently, they are running a three‐year program called Maji which has three components. First, it makes information about Tanzania’s rural water supply available to citizens. Second and most related to the citizen report card concept is that it allows citizens to send a text message to a central number to report a breakdown in the water supply. Finally it forwards that information to relevant authorities and the media. By partnering with the media, the organization is able to bring more attention to these citizen reports in order to put pressure on the government to be more accountable. The SMS facility was switched on in three Tanzanian districts in November 2010. Its founder, Ben Taylor, reports that 500 text messages have been sent, 100 forwarded, "a few cases of problems solved", and that there is "clear evidence that district water officials take media seriously‐can't be ignored"(Taylor, 2011). However, once again, the case deserves extensive impact assessment research.
5.4.2 The Case of CGNet Swara: localized citizen journalism
http://cgnetswara.org/ Voice remains the primary interface for mobile phone subscribers in India, as text interfaces are hindered by low literacy (33% of adults in India are reportedly non‐ literate), and lack of font support, for example for tribal languages (Thies, 2011). Voice‐ based mobile phone citizen journalism therefore provides the ideal medium for the millions who are not comfortable using the Internet, or do not have access to it, but have readily integrated mobile phones in their everyday lives. It also empowers marginalized citizens to participate both by creating and listening to local news, in a country where there are very few media channels for tribal languages, most national journalists do not know these languages, and it is not legal to broadcast news over FM or community radio (the only news permitted is on the state owned All India Radio)(Thies, 2011). In Chhattisgarh, India, CGNet Swara, working jointly with Microsoft Research India, MIT and the International Centre for Journalists, enables citizen reporters to call in and record a short update of their situation. Option one in the system allows the journalists to record news. Moderators then vet and publish the story. They also alert subscribers though text messages that a new report is available, which they can dial into (option two) to access. They then hear the three most recent 46
news stories, as selected by the moderators (CGnet Swara, 2011). The voice access system has been modeled by Bill Thies, from Microsoft Research India, as below: Source: Attributed to Bill Thies (Pokharel, 2010) Several success stories are reported from initial experiments. One is that when a journalist reported non‐payment of NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) wages, a visit from The Hindu newspaper led to 1000 workers being paid six months wages (CGnet Swara, 2011). A similar report led to overdue pavement of a year's wages to teachers, and an official ordering a liquor shop to be removed from school vicinity due to a local report (Thies, 2011). Over 25% of 110 reports analyzed by Thies (2011) concerned grievances, and just under 25% performance of local government. Although apparently conceived in July 2004 (Ray, 2010) by Shubhranshu Choudhary, a former BBC journalist, originally from the area, and launched in February 2010 (Pandey, 2010), CGnet Swara still appears to be a fledgling initiative. It certainly holds the potential to help measure quality and responsiveness of service providers in governance. The integration of mobile phones and the messages posted on the Internet and relayed back via SMS/voice mail could also incentivize providers to improve both services if they are publicized by citizens and the media. However, when Thies (2011) reports of a two‐day training course in citizen journalism of 29 participants, it emerges that 66% were male, half had a college degree, and all but four had finished 10th standard (10th grade). 80% owned a mobile phone, but less than half had sent an SMS. This suggests that it is mainly the male, more educated, technologically comfortable demographics of the population which is using the service, although the SMS element is new to them. Secondly, Thies (2011) reports that most posts are in Hindi, although 10% are in Kurukh. There are fewer posts in the tribal languages of Gondi, Chattisgarhi, and Nagpuri. This negates Choudhary's initial aim to have more journalism in tribal 47
languages, because "when you are talking to someone who knows Hindi in those villages, you are talking to someone who is from the upper class of the tribal community" (Ray, 2010). The implication therefore is that it is still being used by Hindi speaking, ostensibly, higher classes. Thirdly, out of 150 contributors, a top 10% are responsible for 45% of the posts. These top 10% are often local social activists (Thies, 2011). Those who want to either leave a message or listen also have to pay for the service (Thies, 2011). Finally, it appears that the moderators still control the flow of information as they choose which three stories can be heard by listeners: these intermediaries are therefore able to shape the news disseminated and their profiles and roles need to be researched in greater detail. Therefore, although Thies (2011) does not make this argument, it could be said that this technology is mainly being used by those who are politically interested, technologically confident, and educated. In addition, as with many technology initiatives, one could ask what the sustainability of such a model is, as it is currently being supported by Microsoft Research India and MIT.
5.5 Hybrid and "older" technologies
The hybrid use of digital and nondigital technologies should not be forgotten in the focus on online interventions, and interactive mapping. Slater and Tacchi (2004) summarize the map of technologies used in any one context as the "communicative ecology", which can include anything from roads to newspapers to "nodes" such as tea shops. This holistic communicative ecology was illustrated in the case of the overthrowing of President Mubarak in Egypt, where with a low mobile phone penetration rate (allegedly 20%) and monitored Internet access, activists arranging the first demonstrations in Tahrir Square circumvented these restrictions by devising a plan to talk on their mobile phones while travelling by taxi. The assumption was that the taxi drivers would overhear the plans to demonstrate, and pass the rumor on, therefore melding different tools of communication. Radio is another example, particularly community radio which is relatively cheap (as opposed to PCs or using an Internet cafe), it has a wide catchment area, does not require listeners to be literate, is intended to involve live listener participation (e.g. phone‐ins) and be managed by the community itself. Listeners can also participate from their homes, rather than entering telecentres or cyber cafes, which some segments of the population may feel uncomfortable doing. Innovative programs are often made, for example a radio play broadcast on local corruption at Uva Community Radio in Sri Lanka (Slater & Tacchi, 2004), anonymous polls on local politicians, a live recording of women complaining of water shortages (which the local panchayat or governing body then rectified) and a live local election broadcast, all on Namma Dhwani community radio in India (Nair, Jennaway, & Skuse, 2006). However, many countries strictly control the content of community radio, e.g. in India, community radio was only legalized in 2006, can only be established by NGOs and educational institutions (thereby relying on their agenda), and cannot broadcast news 48
programs; in Mexico, content is managed and approved by the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous People; in Sri Lanka, "community radios" are strictly controlled by the government body, the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation.
6 Findings, discussion and policy recommendations
6.1 The value of ICTs
In terms of effectiveness, evidence suggests that "pre" or "non" ICT transparency and accountability mechanisms have been effective in their immediate goals. They made government information more transparent. Various stakeholders audited government services and participated in budgeting decisions. They generated dialogue and activism surrounding acceptable levels of government service delivery. Community monitoring led to the publicity of information, implementation of citizen report cards and exposure of corruption (Mc Gee & Gaventa, 2010). Initiatives have been successful in creating awareness of entitlements, increasing citizen participation to demand accountability and claiming rights. However, as McGee et al state, “despite demands for accountability and exposure of corruption, experience suggests that the kinds of direct social accountability mechanisms discussed… have little traction unless they are able to trigger traditional accountability.” Hybrid accountability and continuous mechanisms are necessary (Goetz & Jenkins, 2001). One such suggestion is that of horizontal accountability (human rights ombudsman, corruption control agencies, legislative investigative commissions, public enquiries and so on) (Ackerman, 2004; Goetz & Jenkins, 2001). Figure 4 therefore summarizes several factors that enable or constrain transparency and accountability initiatives and efforts. There are several conditions from both the demand side (in terms of promoting citizen voice) and the supply side (provider delivering services to the poor). McGee et al find that on the state (or supply) side, the level of democratization or context within which demands can be made for accountability is an important factor. The ‘political will’ or support for accountability and transparency initiatives as well as the political economy within which the initiatives operate is influential. Enabling legal frameworks, incentives and mechanisms for sanctions on public officials to influence behavior are all part of the political economy. For example, McGee et al elaborate and discuss the need to actually investigate corruption and impose formal sanctions or fines for delays in the provision of services (Mc Gee & Gaventa, 2010). On the demand side, there are also several important factors influencing transparency and accountability. Specifically, the capabilities of citizens and civil society organizations to access and use information as well as the capacity to mobilize are important. Linkages to broader forms of collective action and mobilization can strengthen and support such initiatives. 49
However, we argue that not only ICTs smooth the transition from data> information> action, they also conflate each of these stages, so that it becomes a seamless, iterative cycle (the more data that is available online, the more it can be visualized in different ways, leading to citizen action, more use of social mapping, more detailed becoming available etc). If the Bangalore citizen report card experiment for example was to be repeated online, it may not need to wait for the publicity from the media which it needed in its early trials. Although media publicity would still be helpful, the simple use of a website, and providing interactive facilities on it would help publicize the initiative, and encourage citizen engagement (which the media could again take up, therefore perpetuating the circle). In particular, this paper specifies that technologies enable accountability, transparency and participation by: reducing the distance between government service provider and user with more access to decision makers’, information and platforms to raise concerns and issues equally enabling horizontal, downwards and upwards flow of information, thereby providing the potential for all parties to be transparent and accountable. providing multi‐platform opportunities for dissemination and interaction with information 50
providing visual tools for citizens to access government data and therefore simplifying traditionally presented government information (e.g. budgets) providing analytical tools for citizens to use (e.g. to compare year‐on‐year, or with other departments, or states) providing real‐time opportunities for citizen interaction and feedback providing popular platforms for discussion among geographically disparate citizen populations (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), while also giving governments and NGOs the opportunity to establish their own platforms. providing the "glare affect" (using ICTs to enable media attention to publicize causes, draw attention to government behavior, and garnering immediate citizen responses)
However, as Figure 4 indicates there are several structural issues that influence the value that ICTs can add to transparency and accountability. Here, the role of the media (and therefore a free media) is critical. The combination of a free media with ICTs being used for accountability and transparency is powerful in the dissemination of information and attention to locally relevant issues. The level at which ICTs can be used as an effective tool depends on the ICT infrastructure itself, levels of connectivity throughout a country, and broadband penetration. The ubiquity of devices can also determine who is participating and contributing to the process of accountability and transparency. Both general literacy and digital literacy are important factors that constrain the effectiveness and level of use citizens feel when participating in these initiatives. In addition, it is argued here that technology mediated interventions are largely based on five principles: 1)they do not exclusively depend on one type of technology, but can and usually do fuse technologies such as PC, mobile phones, and other platforms working together with different applications such as social networking or geo‐mapping. Rather than these tools being used in isolation, they work across the compute continuum to maximize impact and reach 2) they provide a tangible opportunity for citizen participation by allowing anybody to access and update complaints and feedback on government services; 3) the results of that participation can be tracked and seen by all; 4) they are usually mediated by a technologically savvy NGO or non‐profit organization, and most 5) importantly, it is the "glare" effect, particularly when given media attention, which puts pressure on local government. This paper has highlighted the potential value that ICTs can play in the accountability and transparency field. However, it is also important to acknowledge the limitations of the practices and the use of ICTs for these purposes. For example, in the case of mapping election results, the potential for transparency and accountability in the election could be affected well before the actual Election Day through the use of public advertising, or distribution of foods ahead of elections to influence voters, or the basic 51
effectiveness of political parties as representative bodies and its levels of transparency, inclusion and accountability. There are several themes that emerge from our review of ICTs for transparency and accountability that need to be considered when strategizing and implementing these initiatives. Many of these themes have policy implications and lay the ground for a research agenda which we highlight below.
6.2 Research and policy recommendations
6.2.1 Impact on the poor and information capabilities
As indicated earlier, there is an assumption that transparency and accountability initiatives lead to greater participation of the poor and empowerment with greater awareness of information and rights. The fact remains, and as discussed in section 4.5, that for much of the world's population, ICTs, online petitions or any kind of online interaction regarding transparency and accountability of government services is inaccessible given access, cost, connectivity, and infrastructure issues. For this reason, we strongly recommend multi‐platform initiatives, integrated with "older" technologies such as SMS‐based mobile phone usage, community radio, even vehicles equipped with loudspeakers circulating in rural areas, publicizing interventions (e.g. more information or clarification on the Right to Information Act in India). Adoption and use of ICTs for transparency and participation becomes more important to this population of citizens given risks of exclusion and lack of voice in the political process. Shared access telecenters and computer centers that include digital literacy programs, along with PC’s for broadband access are examples of potential access points for these communities to broaden the reach and impact of the initiatives. Research indicates that people’s actual and meaningful use of ICTs, rather than access to ICTs alone is an important precondition for ICTs to impact their well‐being (Gigler, 2011). Often there is an emphasis on access as the most important criteria for ICTs for transparency and accountability initiatives to be successful. This paper argues, however, that access is important but not sufficient for meaningful impact in terms of enhancement of ICT capabilities and sustainable change for the poor. The technical appropriation of ICTs by communities in accountability and transparency initiatives is an important condition in attaining meaningful use. Enhancing peoples’ informational capabilities through digital literacy is critical in determining the impact of accountability and transparency initiatives on poor peoples’ well‐being. More research therefore needs to be conducted on multi‐platform Daraja and CG Net Swara and how these models may be replicated elsewhere. If the cost of ICT devices such as mobile phones, PCs, tablets and other devices are prohibitive, participation will be limited to higher income groups rather than be inclusive of the poor. It has been argued that transparency initiatives often mainly benefit the upper and middle classes (Wade, 2002). However, in many cases corruption affect poorer demographics more 52
than wealthier populations (Knox, 2009). Lower income groups are often less likely to use transparency and accountability initiatives, due to a combination of lack of access to ICTs, confidence in using them, a sense of security in making complaints, and basic literacy (Madon & Sahay, 2002; Wade, 2002). For this reason, there needs to be more research on intermediaries such as NGO practitioners and professionals acting on behalf of poor communities. Furthermore, it is important not to confuse users with beneficiaries, as there may be an indirect impact of ICTs (Heeks, 2011). For policymakers, we recommend specifically accounting for lower income groups and the poor when designing these initiatives and recognizing that their participation may be constrained due to structural issues as well as lack of opportunities to enhance their information capabilities. This may involve supporting digital literacy programs that convey how to participate in transparency and accountability initiatives. It is also important to recognize that data produced through crowd sourcing and interactive maps may not be representative of all citizen information, data, and desires. But instead may constitute an elite subset of the population, masking true needs of the most marginalized groups. For researchers: We recommend examining the actual use, participation, and impacts of transparency initiatives on the very poor and marginalized groups in government citizen feedback mechanisms, participatory budgeting, and interactive mapping. To what extent does participation include these groups? What is the role of intermediaries acting on behalf of these groups?
6.2.2 Online or offline impact/ Measuring social impact
It is still unclear what the actual impacts (social, political, economic) of these initiatives are for both governments and citizens and how best to measure it. A case in point is Ushahidi, replicated after Kenya in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, Japan after 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and most recently in Syria. However none of these initiatives appear to have had as much publicity as the initial intervention. What is the difference between media attention and actual impact or change? Also ICTs are highlighted in the context of these social changes as a key tool that is enabling change. What specifically does social change mean in this context? What specific role did ICTs play and what is impact? Can this truly be used for change? Is it publicity or one factor in a myriad? Can it be used without elite support or does it necessarily require broad scale support? For researchers: Further examination is needed to better understand the factors that enable or constrain replication of initiatives and how together they create an enabling environment for transparency and accountability. As the field of new technology is still emerging, a great deal still remains to be discussed and analyzed. Why are some initiatives successful, and yet, when copied in other contexts, not? Is it because of the novelty element in the first instance, which loses its appeal? Or is it because of the wider context? Studies of the same technological intervention in different country contexts would therefore be beneficial. 53
For policymakers: Given the fact that there is little empirical research that is being done in this area, funding for research on measuring the impact of these initiatives, convening researchers to discuss impact, and incorporating those findings into the policy dialogue is of paramount importance.
6.2.3 Comparison between ICT and non‐ICT enabled initiatives
In this paper, we have outlined some differences and factors that contribute to the success of ICT enabled initiatives. However little empirical comparative data looking at ICT and non‐ICT enabled transparency and accountability initiatives exist. What results would an online community scorecard/citizen report card have in comparison with one conducted face‐to‐face by NGO workers for example? What difference has technology made to the campaign for anticorruption laws by Anna Hazare, mentioned earlier in this paper? Although this received much publicity through Facebook (less so on Twitter, with fewer users in India compared to Facebook), the ultimate method of protest used by Hazare and his followers was hunger strike, modeled on Mahatma Gandhi, firmly pre‐ ICT. In fact, one academic argues that President Mubarak's decision to shut down the Internet and mobile phone networks in Egypt in January during critical protests in Tahrir Square only served to encourage more of face‐to‐face interaction, and spreading the message to a wider demographic. The author writes that this decision: “implicated many apolitical citizens unaware of or uninterested in the unrest; it forced more face‐to‐face communication, i.e., more physical presence in streets; and finally it effectively decentralized the rebellion on the 28th [January] through new hybrid communication tactics, producing a quagmire much harder to control and repress than one massive gathering in Tahrir” (Cohen, 2011). Technology may therefore hasten the process of interaction, but it may also engender armchair discussions within elite groups or complacency, where one may feel that online support is sufficient, without this translating into actual action. For researchers: There is a need for more comparative research between ICT and non‐ ICT based transparency and accountability initiatives. This entails understanding the role and incremental value that may be added when ICTs are part of the process. For policy makers: When designing and supporting new initiatives that are ICT based, analysis of the actual value ICTs may have vs. a low tech solution is important. This has cost effects as well as repercussions for who may be able to participate meaningfully.
6.2.4 A comprehensive database
Currently there is no comprehensive central database of all transparency and accountability initiatives using ICTs worldwide as well as NGOs working in this field. Although organizations such as http://www.transparency‐initiative.org/ and http://globalvoicesonline.org/ provide useful case studies, there is no country by country analysis, no analysis of comparative government bodies across the world, and even when case studies are undertaken, these become rapidly out of date. For example, 54
Avila, Chak et al. 2010 commended Penang Watch, an online complaint channel in the Penang region of Malaysia, but when accessed for the purposes of this research in August 2011, it appeared that the website had been taken over by cyber squatters (for this reason, we are also mindful of the longevity of case studies discussed in this paper). For policymakers and researchers: Recommend a collaborative undertaking to work together to build a comprehensive database that can be a resource to development agencies, decision makers, governments, NGOs, and academics. Undertaking this will not be an easy task, firstly because of the diversity of what is classified as "ICT based transparency and accountability", and secondly because of the challenge in encouraging stakeholders to work together in one central database or map. However, it will provide an opportunity for all to learn from each other, create dialogue, and to see which NGOs have experience in particular technology or initiatives. Because this is a rapidly changing field, and as illustrated by the case of Penang Watch above, continuous updating is essential to maintain the relevance of such a database.
6.2.5 Changing nature of state
With ICT enabled government initiatives, governments have the opportunity to portray themselves as more open and accessible to its citizens (Kuriyan & Ray, 2009). How do accountability and transparency initiatives change the way in which citizens experience the state? How does it change how the state may or may not try to portray itself? Given the efforts to be more transparent, is this simply a new ‘face’/brand of the state, or is it truly able to give citizens insight into the state’s processes and actions? For researchers: This is linked to the recommendation of measuring the impact of these initiatives, but further research is needed to understand the extent to which these are simply exercises by governments to rebrand itself to citizens versus meaningful actions to given citizens more accessibility and agency.
6.2.6 Research methods
Currently, there is little academic research in the context of these initiatives. At the moment the majority of research in this field is based on un‐theorized cases which outline what the initiatives are expected to do and their general impact to date. While survey data has its benefits in terms of covering a large population in providing generalizability, qualitative research and hearing "voices" would also be very helpful, as would participatory evaluation. In particular, there is a strong need for local researchers, with the relevant language skills. For researchers: More research is needed to understand which methods can be useful to study the impact of such initiatives. Linked to this, there should be further research on which particular technology or type of intervention impacts on a particular demographic. Are we right to resume that certain technologies are used by certain demographics, or are there new, hybrid methods of access in today's rapidly changing technoscape, as in the Egyptian example in section 4.5? 55
It is also essential to situate this work within the context of the existing and burgeoning research in the field of ICTs and development more broadly. In particular there is an opportunity to build on the vast research on states and citizens. The use of ICTs as tools to enable interactions may be new to the field, but these initiatives are built on long standing, existing relationships between citizens and states. The challenge is to conduct robust analytical research that builds on these existing bodies of work.
6.2.7 Robustness of data
As information is aggregated in interactive maps through crowdsourcing and individual inputs, a question arises about the robustness of the data. If individuals are self‐ reporting data about elections, corruption, and wrongdoings by the government, is there a way to verify the validity and quality of this data? Do people have incentives to misreport because of personal motivations, misgivings and grievances with the state? Currently there is little effort done to verify the validity of individual data other than trusting in the integrity of individuals. When the aggregation of this data is used to make large policy statements (i.e. Election results don’t match official reporting, or there are high levels of corruption in particular regions), there is a risk of manipulation in the process. There is also the potential for a self‐selection of elite people to be represented in the process if vulnerable/more marginalized groups don’t feel confident to contribute to the process. As a result a portrayal of a particular situation may be biased or skewed towards a particular population and may not be representative. This is linked to Goetz and Jenkins's (2001) argument that terms such as accountability and transparency are frequently used carelessly, when we need greater clarifications on: who is seeking accountability; from whom; where (in what form); how; and for what (against which action or norms?) For policymakers and researchers: More data analysis and strategy needs to be developed to ensure the validity of data as well as to manage large quantities of data. When so many individuals are inputting data, how does this data get managed, aggregated and reported out? Should there be a set of standards and code of conduct to which end users who are inputting this data should adhere.
6.2.8 Gender and participation
The technologies for transparency initiatives have implications for gender, particularly on its impacts for women and girls. The case of gender budgeting demonstrates how the use of gender analysis to evaluate the impact of budgets on females and males can potentially respond to the needs of both women and men adequately. However, this is a largely untapped area which seems to hold potential for women to use technologies as a tool to enable better participation in public processes, demanding services, and interacting with governments. For policymakers: Explicitly take into account the role of women and girls in the development and strategy of these initiatives. Without attention to potential gender 56
disparities, there is a risk that such initiatives will reinforce existing inequalities and power dynamics. For researchers: By making salient the parts of the political process in which women are often excluded or play a minor role, it becomes easier to identify how technologies for transparency may start to address these disparities. Research is needed to better understand how these technologies may have a positive (or negative) impact in the lives of girls and women.
6.2.9 Regulation and Ethics
Given recent events around the globe using ICTs for transparency, accountability and open governance (such as Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya), it is clear that this is a rapidly changing field in terms of the social and political impacts ICTs can have. There are implications for how ICTs are used, what platforms should be used, and importantly how this is regulated. Many questions are open as to the responsibility of technology companies manufacturing the technologies that are enabling these social movements and changes. For example, should Vodafone, a British‐based company, have acquiesced to Mubarak's telecommunications blackout in Egypt? The company was criticized for later releasing a "power to you" advertising campaign, suggesting that it had been a major tool for the protests, particularly given its lack of resistance to Mubarak. If ICTs are used to incite a riot vs. a revolution vs. a peaceful protest, what role do technology companies play in these events? What responsibility do they have to the end users that are making demands or even threats using these technologies? Who should be regulating these activities? Who is responsible when ICTs are used in demanding open governance, yet in the process violence ensues? What if the technology company enabling the ICT service is based in one country, while the uses of the technology for various purposes takes place in another—how should the legal system operate under these conditions? What role do governments play vs. corporations vs. citizens themselves? From an ethical perspective, there are several questions that emerge with transparency and accountability initiatives. If a citizen uploads data to report human rights violations, corruption or wrongdoings by the government, is there data secure? Are there any risks or repercussions that may take place because citizens participate in these initiatives? What steps are being taken to ensure people’s privacy and own human rights? Finally, if we take the focus away from the technology element do we need more dialogue and research on the processes of democracy itself? David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has consistently critiqued Internet censorship by countries such as China and Egypt. He was quoted in February 2011 as saying new social media provided immense opportunities for citizens of Egypt and Tunisia in the "Arab Spring", stating social media "belongs to a new generation for whom technology — the Internet and social media — is a powerful tool in the hands of citizens, not a means of repression. It belongs to the people who’ve had enough of corruption, of having to make do with what they’re given, of having to settle for second best" (Economist, 2011). Yet, after the 57
UK riots in August 2011, he called an emergency meeting on restricting the use of social media, stating "everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organized via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them" (Halliday, 2011). Who decides what is "for ill" and "for good"? How and who will legislate for this in the new paradigms of citizen‐government interaction? For policymakers: There is much work to be done in defining a regulatory and legal framework under which transparency and accountability initiatives can operate. This requires open dialogue among governments, technology corporations, citizen groups and organizations leading these initiatives to define and explore the possibilities, boundaries and structures that may be most useful. For researchers: Further examination of the regulatory environment is required from both a legal and policy perspective. Additionally research is needed from the ethics perspective as to the impacts of these initiatives on privacy, security, and human rights.
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The following section provides the peer reviewers comments (1 of the 4 reviews) which contributed towards shaping this initial draft research paper. Technologies for Transparency and Accountability: Implications for ICT Policy and Implementation Comments prepared by William Reuben ‐ The Coordinator of the World Bank s NGOs and Civil Society network (October 31, 2011) First of all, I would like to thank the team for asking me to comment this interesting paper. It is going to play an important role in clarifying and suggesting different ways and tools by which information technologies can improve and make more inclusive and effective the demand for good governance and accountability. I have organized my comments in three main sections: 1. General comments regarding the scope and audience of the paper The Introduction of the paper should include a sharper definition of its audience. Sometimes it looks like it is addressed to policy makers and government decision makers. However, the technical details provided in the last sections suggest that it is addressed to practitioners and staff of international development agencies and institutions. The conceptual discussion about participation in accountability processes at times suggests that it aims at contributing to the general debate about the role of civic engagement in governance, involving academics. A sharper definition of the audience could help to define the scope of the paper. I suggest that it defines a stronger focus on the role of information technologies. The theoretical section and the presentation of the traditional accountability and transparency processes could be shorter and basically placed as an introduction to a more substantive discussion and exhaustive presentation of the role and experience of ICT in governance. 2. Comments to the conceptual aspects of accountability and the so called traditional accountability processes and mechanisms In spite of my suggestion of making less ambitious and shortening these sections of the paper, I would like to make some comments to its conceptual framework and the presentation of the so called traditional or pre ICT accountability mechanisms. 64 General comments regarding the scope and audience of the paper. Comments to the conceptual aspects of accountability and the so called traditional accountability processes and mechanisms Comments to the added value of information technologies to improving the demand for good governance and accountability.
The accountability triangle I concur with the team that the accountability triangle defined in the WDR 2004 is a good framework to the presentation and discussion of the role of accountability in governance and more specifically to the different mechanisms of voice for improving development policy results and service delivery. However, there are two issues that I would like to highlight. First, I think that there is a misunderstanding of the so called long and short routes of accountability. Second, the accountability triangle falls short in terms of capturing broader and current governance and democratization processes to which ICT has had and will have a tremendous potential to contribute and strengthen. First. Many of the accountability processes presented in this paper do not belong to the short route, as suggested in the paper. In other words, they are processes and mechanisms of voice, rather than of client power, to improve the quality of service delivery. All participatory initiatives in demand of more transparent and accountable budgeting processes belong to the long route. The participatory budgeting, the gender budgets, the citizens’ budget analyses, budget expenditure tracking and budget results monitoring are different forms or expressions of citizen’s voice. They belong to the realm of voice, along with electoral processes. They belong to the realm of the long route, although thanks in part to ICT and traditional mass media they are “shorter” than elections, in so far they do not have to wait for the established electoral cycle to have an impact on decision makers and regulators. Second. The resent social and civic uprisings that have taken place in the Middle East go beyond the demand for accountability in service delivery which is what the triangle is about. They are about redefining the way a society is governed and organized. The paper could provide a deeper analysis of these social movements, focusing on the role played by ICT in the formation and mobilization of new social capital. Exclusion and the cost of participation If you decide to keep in the document the discussion on issues concerning exclusion and elite capture linked to participation, it would be then relevant to present a deeper analysis of the limits of representation and internal accountability of participatory processes (p. 7‐8). The cost of participation, as stated in the paper, is one of the factors limiting the participation of the poor. But this is a limitation that can be addressed through appropriate process designs (i.e. decentralization of fora, adequate schedules, limiting the number and duration of meetings); and precisely through the use of ICT and local media (mobile phones, internet booths, community radios, etc.) There are other more decisive social exclusion factors, like gender and ethnic exclusion mechanisms, and others related to the political environment, which are more difficult to overcome, and therefore pose deeper challenges to the legitimacy of participation. In any case, I suggest that the paper does not leave open the questions on the legitimacy of participation. It is advisable that it presents a reasonable argument on the value of 65
citizens’ participation as a means to improve accountability and development results in spite of its limitations. Otherwise what would be the justification for developing the following sections? Even more, it would be interesting to hear what the authors have to say about the role of ICT in overcoming those limitations. The relationship between transparency, participation and accountability The relationship between transparency, participation and accountability leads us to a discussion about what are the factors enabling an effective participation of citizens and users to hold governments and service providers accountable. SDV in the World Bank has developed an important discussion about this through a set of papers and tools on the enabling environment for civic engagement and social accountability. The so called ARVIN factors, which stand for: Association, Resources, Voice, Information and Negotiation. I suggest you consult these documents prepared and published by the Participation and Civic Engagement Unit (2004‐5). They provide a good analysis of the factors affecting the effectiveness of participation in accountability, including the quality of and accessibility to information. Classification of traditional transparency and accountability initiatives I had a hard time trying to understand the classification you propose of the traditional transparency and accountability initiatives. The distinction between social accountability initiatives focusing on accessing information, assessing and adapting information and acting upon information does not quite reflect what these initiatives are about. My understanding is that all the initiatives you mention have to do with accessing, analyzing and acting upon information. Let’s take the Open Budget Initiative for instance. The OBI’s main focus is to assess the accessibility and quality of the budgeting process from the point of view of citizens and the horizontal mechanisms of accountability, like the congress and the budget auditing office. The OBI collects information about the budgeting process cycle, assesses this information making use of a set of indicators to enable the comparison across countries and through time periods with the purpose of acting upon this information (advocating) and putting pressure on governments to improve the accountability of the budgeting cycle. Or let’s take the citizen’s report cards. They also are initiatives to collect information about users’ satisfaction upon the quality of public services with the purpose of creating pressure on regulators and service providers to improve service delivery. Hence, CRCs produce information and make it accessible to users and citizens to act upon it to improve the quality of the service. Social monitoring too, involves accessing relevant and reliable information, analyzing it and acting upon it to hold local governments accountable. 66
Participatory Budgeting The section referring to the participatory budgeting is interesting as it provides an overall description its origins, the process and its limitations. However, I suggest you make use of reports of relevant impact assessments of the PB in Brazil, (Porto Alegre and country wide), and Peru (country wide), produced by the WB. Both reports provide a deep assessment of the potential and limitations of the PB, making use of counterfactual evidence: World Bank (2008), Brazil: Towards a More Inclusive and Effective Participatory Budget in Porto Alegre, Washington D.C.; and Banco Mundial (2011), Peru: Evaluacion del Presupuesto Participativo y su Relacion con el Presupuesto Por Resultados, Lima. Both conclude, based on strong evidence, that the PB has an impact on resource allocations by better responding to the needs of the population, and particularly of the poor. But they also reveal the prevalence of social exclusion factors that limit the participation of the poorest and other excluded groups like women and youth. Citizens Report Cards It would be relevant to acknowledge that CRCs show significant limitations when they are used in rural contexts and country wide. The CRC has proven to be an effective mechanism to hold accountable the quality of service providers in urban settings. However, rural settings present serious challenges to the effectiveness of the mechanism: users have a limited knowledge of quality standards and the possibility of comparing with other service providers. This limitation became evident in Peru (2005). A CRC applied country wide on the quality of basic health services revealed that the communities showing the highest levels of satisfaction (usually rural ones) had the lowest performance indicators in health and nutrition. 3. Comments on the added value of Information technologies This is the most interesting and innovative section of the paper. It would benefit from a brief conceptualization on the fundamental elements that make ICT a unique factor potentiating the role of citizen participation in governance and accountability: (i) enabling horizontal flows of information that make possible the establishment of powerful and flexible networks and coalitions; (ii) strengthening downward, timely, reliable and relevant information flows to improve the quality and credibility of participation; (iii) empowering voice by creating upward information flows, which are more inclusive, powerful and timely, to influence and inform decision making.
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