Technology and accountability – ideas


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Accountability Initiative is holding a bar-camp on June 5-6. This bar camp would focus on accountability issues in India. This presentation is being made to facilitate ideas on what can be done in India.

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Technology and accountability – ideas

  1. 1. Technology and Accountability – Ideas<br />What can be done in India?<br />
  2. 2. Context<br />A lot of people messaged me saying they don’t know how to think about “Technology and Transparency”. They asked me if I had any case-studies on such work. <br />So I came up with this presentation on documenting what accountability means, and various initiatives taken up across the world to increase accountability. <br />All these initiatives were put together under a larger framework of what Accountability-India does and talks about.<br />
  3. 3. Broadly, our work and our focus areas can be put into 4 neat boxes<br />
  4. 4.
  5. 5. Creating nuanced definitions of accountability<br /> Accountability is an all-encompassing term, dealing with a number of institutions, concepts and instruments. However, the popular perception loosely equates transparency and accountability i.e. more transparency would lead to greater accountability. Though greater transparency can be correlated with greater accountability, it’s not the complete story. There are other areas that need to be investigated. There is a case for defining the term “Accountability” in greater detail and also unpacking its various nuances, which is what Accountability Initiative does. <br />
  6. 6. Creating nuanced definitions of accountability – Some examples<br />Social accountability<br />Budget accountability through expenditure tracking<br />Institutional accountability<br />
  7. 7.
  8. 8. Paths To Accountability<br />
  9. 9. Issues related to transparency<br />Government data sets – How to find government data sets? How to track them? How to make them accessible and understandable for people? How to make the data machine-readable and available for data-mashups? How to judge the quality of a data-set? <br />Sithi - Sithi is a Cambodian human rights portal that aims to crowdsource and curate reports of human rights violations.<br />Data Net runs Datacamp, a web application for publishing datasets in more human-understandable form.<br />Ai-D is a website which collates all publicly available data sets. How do you create a similar repository for India?<br />The National Data Catalogis an open platform for government data sets and APIs. It makes it easy to find datasets by and about government, across all levels (federal, state, and local) and across all branches (executive, legislative, and judicial). The data here is imported from multiple sources and curated by our staff.<br />Real-time funds tracking - How to track the flow of funds and expenditure responsibilities in the government machinery in real-time? Where to get the information about different types of funds and their flow – including discretionary funds like MPLADS? How to harmonize budget codes between the state and center? How to get data on predictability of fund-flows?<br />
  10. 10. How can laws like the RTI Act give people access to information? – How effective is the RTI? How can information obtained by one person through RTI be made available to the public? What problems can this entail?<br />RTI India helps Indian citizens file Right to Information requests online.<br />Can there be a website which collates all RTI requests and the answers to them, so that everybody else looking for similar information might be benefited?<br />Transparency International and its offshoots build extensive databases on transparency issues.<br />
  11. 11. Issues related to analysis of data in the public domain<br />What kind of data-analysis can help in the analysis of data in the public domain? Our budget briefs attempt this. <br />Can this be done using more mechanized methods using data-mining etc?<br />How do you access, visualize, and mine open and available data?<br />Visual Data does interesting work in India<br />Gap minder<br />Open and equitable access to research data<br />How can outcomes be tracked?<br />How can outcomes be related to fund-flows?<br />
  12. 12. Budgetary analysis<br /> Our Budget transforms the Tel Aviv municipal budget from a PDF to a spreadsheet format with visualizations.<br />The Budget Tracking Tool helps the Kenyan public monitor and track money allocated for development in the national budget.<br />The objective of ContasAbertas(Open Accounts) is to encourage people to understand and control the use of the budget in governments.<br />Clearspending is a scorecard that analyzes how well U.S. government agencies are reporting their spending data on Clearspending is the most thorough analysis of this federal grant and loan data ever conducted.<br />
  13. 13. Issues related to participation<br />How do you make the budgeting process more participatory? This map here shows participatory and e-participatory initiatives across the world. <br />Should social audits be institutionalized. What can technology learn from social audits?<br /> How can information campaigns be made better using technology?<br />How can we ensure participation of the poorest people in local-bodies like SMC’s etc? It’s just not a matter of participation, but also of making them aware that this is important, and empowering them with information.<br />Are voice-based interventionseffective? Can there be a dial-in number where SMC members call, and hear a recorded message like “Dial 1 for information on school statistics, 2 for .. etc)” <br />
  14. 14. How can social media etc help panchayati raj institutions to function better?<br />How can we increase citizen participation?<br />Tak-tak-takproject<br />Praja (“Citizens” or “Public”) is an Indian organization that describes itself as a “social networking site for people interested in local urban civic issues.”<br />iJanagraaha - promoting the ‘spirit of volunteerism’ for citizen engagement, through information, training workshops, and the building of citizen-government relationships while keeping an eye on direct accountability<br />
  15. 15. Issues related to evaluation<br />How can outcomes be monitored? Outcomes such as learning levels of students etc? ASER does a lot of such work<br />How can we evaluate government spending?<br />RosGosZatraty is a database of Russian government spending. It tracks contracts awarded<br />RosPil - Involves lawyers. They monitor specific contracts online to see which state employees are using state purchases for personal gain.<br />How can we monitor program implementation such as that of SSA?<br />How can we design incentives that will encourage people to evaluate programs?<br />
  16. 16. Issues related to Grievance and Redressal Mechanism<br />How can the government be made more responsive to complaints? What kind of technology be used there?<br />Penang – Uses online avenues to get complaints and get them resolvedl.<br />Kiirti (&FixMyCity) is a platform, where any individual or civil society organization can make a complaint or raise an issue by telephone or by using the website. That issues is then tracked, categorized, mapped, and forwarded on to authorities.<br />CGNetSwara (Chhattisgarh Net Voice) gives voice to the tribal population of Chattisgarh, India, by providing them with a voice-based portal where they can report local issues using a landline or mobile phone. <br /> is a complaint brokerage which collects and organizes complaints from local citizens about the public and private sector.<br />MajiMatoneallows citizens to report waterpoint breakdowns via SMS and informs them about rural water supply issues.<br />Reclamoscrowdsources consumer complaints to create and publish consumer satisfaction rates for Chilean companies and government agencies.<br />How can we track the priority areas of complaints, so that the government sees the high-priority areas and works on them?<br />How can citizens track their complaints?<br />
  17. 17. Issues related to Elections<br />How can election financing in India be cleaned up?<br />Keputamas - This joint initiative seeks to estimate the true amount that parties spend on campaigns by analyzing and estimating their likely expenses. It also incorporates the analysis and policy recommendations developed by the EötvösKároly Institute, and the lessons learned from their own earlier attempts to exert pressure on parliamentary parties to arrive at a consensus on campaign finance reform.<br />Transparency Data is a central source for all federal and state campaign contributions made in the last twenty years. Here you can begin your search, find the information you need and then download records of what a candidate has received, what an individual has given, and how much companies and their employees have given.<br />How can we introduce transparency in elections?<br />Transparent Election Hot Line - A hot line which allows users to submit reports of electoral irregularities online and by phone<br /> – uses Ushahidi to monitor electoral problems<br />Transparent Election Fact Bank - online database of court decisions and proven electoral frauds including audio and video evidence<br />
  18. 18. Blogwatch – Detailed interviews with election candidates on blogs<br />Mumbai votes - tracks politicians and political parties, comparing their promises to performance in order to better inform voters.<br />My MP - IRIS provides details about constituencies, candidates and parties so that voters can make an informed choice.<br /> is a platform that allows citizens and civil society groups to access data about their elected representatives and state and parliamentary-level constituencies.<br />Dinero y Política [Money in Politics] is an on-line database to make transparent electoral campaign contributions.<br />Bestiaro tracks the public statements and promises of politicians in Mexico to hold them accountable. MamPrawoWiedzeic - is a website created to help Polish citizens access information about their elected representatives in an easy, user-friendly way. The project collects information from candidates’ campaign websites, flyers, politicians’ blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and various other online and traditional media sources. <br />
  19. 19. Sharek961 [based on the Arabic word for “participate” and the international calling code for Lebanon] is an Ushahidi-based election monitoring project focused on Lebanon’s 2008 elections.<br />KohoVolit provides Czech and Slovakian voters with a short quiz to match their own voting preferences with those of candidates.<br />Elecciones allows voters to compare candidates based on their policies in different areas such as poverty, health, and education.<br />Amatora mu mahora - nstead of opening the platform to the public, as has been the case with well-known instances of Ushahidi in Kenya, Amatora mu Mahoro limited participation to a smaller group of 430 trained election monitors stationed throughout the country. Rather than publishing unverified monitors’ reports immediately, the project’s staff called the monitors to ask for more information about each report before posting it to the website.<br />Girifna - Girifna conducts voter education and election monitoring campaigns and uses text messaging and Skype to spread the news when pro-democracy activists are arrested or abducted.<br />
  20. 20. Sudan Vote Monitor - When he came across Ushahidi, he decided to use the tool to build a system where Sudanese citizens can report anomalies — violence, voter harassment, vote tampering, illegal campaigning — as well as what goes well in the elections.<br />African Election project - It focuses on technology training for senior editors, journalists and reporters. They are also developing an election guide for journalists and civil society organizations and a mobile application to encourage citizens to engage in election monitoring.<br />Uchagizi - The goal of Uchaguzi was to monitor Kenya’s August 2010 constitutional referendum. <br />A QuienesElegimos provides information about candidates for national and municipal elections.<br />Using Ushahidi to monitor and map misconduct in federal and municipal Mexican election<br />
  21. 21. Issues related to oversight bodies?<br />How can oversight bodies like judiciary etc be cleaned up?<br />Executioners of Ukraine – is a online database of unlawful court decisions.<br />This project focuses on the accountability of the justice system, involving law students, the judges and the public in general.. The project invited judges to openly publish their decisions, allowing students to comment and analyze the legal basis and the trends followed by each judge. The decisions are published as open notebooks, and the judges also blog<br />The Observatorio de SentenciasJudiciales is a database of judicial decisions in Latin America that affect the rights of women.<br />Elección Visible monitors the process of selecting candidates for Colombia's Constitutional Court.<br />
  22. 22. How can the media be made more accountable?<br />How can stories from the villages be made more visible – Video Volunteers<br />How can investigative journalism be made more visible - Centro de PeriodismoInvestigativo de Puerto Rico<br />CIPER is an online Chilean research and information center focused on reporting and investigative journalism.<br />Drugs related - Citizens can inform themselves about the illegal drug trade in Argentina and can also add the points where they know that people are involved in drug dealing to a collaborative map.<br />
  23. 23. How can the politicians be made more accountable? <br />Can we have a website which collates data about politician-businessmen nexus?<br />Poligraft - is a website and utility that allows anyone to uncover levels of influence in federal and state-level politics and the news coverage of it.<br />Influence Explorer connects the dots of political contributions on the federal and state level allowing you to track influence by lawmaker, company or prominent individual.<br />Twiticos follows politicians in Brazil via Twitter and a blog.<br />
  24. 24. How can legislators and parliament be tracked?<br />VoteBD is a web-based platform that tracks, compiles, and disseminates information about politicians and electoral candidates in Bangladesh. <br />PRS<br />Mzalendo tracks the performance of Kenya's Parliament by tracking votes, publishing records, and providing analysis and context.<br />AkomaNtoso XML Schema develops and promotes the adoption of a specific data format for parliamentary, legislative and judiciary documents. <br />APKN is based on the founding principles of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) and the African Union which underlines the need for better coordination and collaboration among African Parliaments to meet the multiple challenges posed by economic and social integration and the need to harmonize legislation in member countries.<br />Legistalker - <br />
  25. 25. How can the executive be made more accountable?<br />Jagorometer, which aims to track the promises made by governments<br />Project Clean Up is looking at giving information on elected representatives. It gives a profile of the representative which includes their achievements, any controversies related to them, their performance till date etc. It has a 'performance monitor' which monitors if the promises made or projects undertaken have been completed<br />ADR undertook a country-wide SMS and helpline campaign during LokSabha (lower house of the national parliament) elections in 2009. It also built an easy-to-use website,, through which information on election candidates, based on self-declared affidavits, is readily made available. <br />VotaInteligente aims to use technology provide Chilean citizens with more information about their elected officials.<br />Adote um vereador encourages Brazilian citizens to blog about the work of their local elected officials in order to hold them accountable.<br />The House Staff Directory empowers the public to better communicate with their elected representatives by making available staff names and (public) phone numbers and addresses. In addition to legislative offices, the directory also includes staffers from offices that support House activities. It is no secret that congressional staff are the lifeblood of Congress, but identifying the best staffer to speak with about a particular issue is a daunting challenge.<br />Performance appraisal based on score cards for MLA's and MP's<br />
  26. 26. Bungeni - Parliamentary and Legislative Information System is the Project supported the development and promotes its deployment and further development. Bungeni is a Parliamentary and Legislative Information System that aims at making Parliaments more open and accessible to citizens, virtually allowing them " inside Parliament" or "Bungeni" the Kiswahili word for "inside Parliament". It is based on open standards, and open source applications that aim to provide solutions for drafting, managing, consolidating and publishing legislative and other parliamentary documents.<br />Sejmometr is an online portal that aims to provide easily digestible insights into the legislative processes of the Polish government.<br />CongressoAberto tracks, visualizes, and analyzes official data from Brazil's Congress.<br />Votenaweb allows citizens to compare their vote on congressional bills with the politicians'.<br />PublicMarkup lets you review and comment on proposed bills before they're introduced—or while they're pending—in Congress.<br />
  27. 27. Read the Bill is a platform for strengthening our democracy by ensuring elected officials and citizens have the chance to read and understand legislation.<br />Open Congress brings together official government data with news and blog coverage, social networking, public participation tools, and more to give you the real story behind what's happening in Congress. OpenCongress is a free, open-source, not-for-profit, and non-partisan web resource with a mission to make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement.<br />Politiwidgets makes inserting information on a Member of Congress into a blog post as easy as embedding a YouTube video. We have 10 free widgets can help you display lawmakers' top campaign contributors, earmarks they have requested, their voting record on any current bill, where their fundraisers are, along with many others.<br />Transparency of civil society organizations<br /> aggregates and disseminates information from a network of over 200 organizations in Zimbabwe to encourage advocacy.<br /><br />
  28. 28. Accountability of institutional processes<br /><ul><li>Subsidios al Campo provides data to increase the transparency and facilitate analysis of four subsidies programs to rural beneficiaries in Mexico.
  29. 29. CidadeDemocrática is a software platform that enables Brazilians to document and discuss municipal problems and solutions.
  30. 30. Concejo Visible Bucaramanga is an initiative coordinated by Universidad Industrial de Santander to increase transparency in the Bucaramanga Municipal Council Administration.
  31. 31. Subsidyscope, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, is revealing information on subsidies by building the most comprehensive source for subsidy data available. The compiled information will stimulate a more vigorous and informed debate about the full scope of federal subsidies and help policy makers make smart choices.</li></li></ul><li>Instruments of Accountability<br />How can we make sure that Citizen Charters are useful?<br />The Tak-tak-tak project in Russia creates an online portal where people can put in algorithms for common services.<br />The project allows citizens to come together to collectively write claims to the government.<br />
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  33. 33. Corruption<br />How to track petty corruption? <br />Ipaidabribe<br />PeraNatin To<br />Saatsaam, which means ‘clean’ in Khmer, is a virtual library storing various corruption related information via images, videos, audios, diagrams, and blogs.<br />Pollitika is a collective anti-corruption blog as well as a database of public information.<br />The Targuist Sniper is no longer active, but he caused a roar in 2007 and 2008 for video taping several police officers accepting bribes from car and truck drivers on the road and then publishing the videos online.<br />By tracking the location of the Tunisian presidential plane and comparing it to the location of the Tunisian president, a blogger was able to uncover gross misuse of state funds<br />The goal of Stop Stockouts is transparency and accountability in the pharmaceutical supply chain in a number of African countries.<br />
  34. 34. How to track larger corruptions like in the case of road contracts and things like that?<br />Earthquake student casualties – Sometimes govt don’t give out data due to the fear it would lead to investigations of bigger corruptions. How can such cases be unearthed? (The earthquake student casualties is a website in China)<br />RosPil - Involves lawyers. They monitor specific contracts online to see which state employees are using state purchases for personal gain.<br />How to track mega-scale corruptions like in the 2g case?<br />Mars Group Kenya operates one of the largest databases of governance information in Kenya, focusing on corruption in the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government, as well as on accountability and civic education.<br />CorrupediA aims to become a collective memory of Colombian corruption easily accessible to citizens.<br />
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  36. 36. Our research and knowledge products<br />Our survey methodology. A lot of our work is based on grassroot-surveys. Can surveys be made less painful using mobile-based tools like episurveyor?<br />Building an army of fiscal detectives - Teaching public finance at the grassroots. Can we put our courses online – a la Moodle.<br />