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Connecting the Dots for Accountability

Jonathan Fox and Brendan Halloran, Anna Levy, Joy Aceron and Albert van Zyl

Publisher: Transparency and Accountability Initiative, School of International Service, American University, International Budget Partnership, Government Watch, SIMLab

February 2016

In June 2015, researchers and practitioners from the global north and south met to discuss more strategic approaches to citizen-led accountability.  Specifically, the workshop organizers sought to explore how CSO efforts could ‘connect the dots’ in ways that involve multiple actors, tools and tactics, and levels of governance.  These ideas drew on insights from Jonathan Fox’s work on vertical integration and strategic accountability, as well as experiences of organizations trying to navigate the ‘accountability ecosystem’ of diverse institutions, mechanisms and processes.

This report draws on the practical experiences and conceptual insights shared during the June workshop.  Key sections include:

  • Conceptual framework for connecting the dots
  • Five concrete case study summaries of CSO strategies to connect the dots
  • Workshop rapporteur’s report with insights organized around 8 key takeaway points

Thus, this report serves as a resource to those who want to address the challenge of isolated and fragmented transparency and accountability interventions that often do not strategically engage with the ecosystem of accountability actors, mechanisms and levels of governance to address the structural causes of corruption, impunity and poor service delivery, but rather more superficial symptoms.  Moreover, the ‘Connecting the Dots’ report pushes back against simple ideas of ‘scaling up’ transparency and accountability efforts as replicating interventions or otherwise incorporating more [users, participants, localities, data, etc.] that are also unlikely to strategically engage with the accountability ecosystem.  Instead, this report argues that efforts to strengthen accountability should adopt approaches that strategically ‘connect the dots’ across actors, mechanisms and levels of governance.

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