Yearly Archives 2014

Last week, my colleague Andrea Menapace and I hosted David McNair from the ONE Campaign and more than two dozen audience participants in a live webinar previewing the upcoming “Follow the Money” Workshop from the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (T/AI). A full archive of the event is available to play online. You can also download the slide presentation (pdf).

Some of the webinar’s best information came from audience members who posted links and descriptions of related projects in the event chat room. We’ve collected many of these “group-sourced” links in an earlier post. Our Workshop—which takes place in Berlin on January 20-21—is being planned to maximize collaboration and information-sharing among peers, so it was especially encouraging to see participants exchanging ideas.

Many governments are now publicly releasing swaths of new data each month. A growing number of private companies are doing the same, notwithstanding tensions over issues likemandatory disclosure and privacy. Used well, this windfall of raw material can do much to inform policymaking and public debate. But it can do even more—if it can be combined with information from other sources, including crowdsourcing, to improve how government regulates. The practical challenge, however, is that far too much valuable data still sits in silos, gathering dust, unavailable and unhelpful even to the regulators who collect it.

Imagine, for instance, if an inspector at an environmental agency had ready access to data on a company’s compliance with regulatory rules—on clean water, air, and chemical disposal, for example—from across her agency. Imagine if she also had access to data from other agencies about corporate compliance with workplace safety and financial regulatory rules? She could then plan her regional inspections to increase the chance of discovering bad corporate behavior. At the very least, it is worth finding out if access to better systematic data about the companies government regulates and their compliance with laws and regulations could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of regulation.