The open way
08 Oct 2014 by Mark Cardwell
Governments and public institutions such as the United Nations are trusted with huge amounts of public funds. We have an obligation to work in a transparent way to show that what we are doing is what we should be doing.
The benefits of being transparent, or “working in the open”, go beyond curbing corruption. Transparency sets the foundation for responsive, engaged organizations. And real transparency allows for the public to have a say in the way work is being done and to take advantage of the “wisdom of the crowd.” Transparency improves efficiency, builds trust and sparks innovation.
The International Aid Transparency Initiative is creating openness in the $200 billion area of international development by giving poor countries the information they need to better manage foreign assistance, and donor governments – and their taxpayers – a better understanding of where their money goes. It is an “open data” effort with global standards for billions in public funds that UNDP has helped launch.
At UNDP, we’ve worked to champion this effort with partner countries and other UN agencies, but we’ve also worked to deliver what we ask of others. We’ve tried hard to make our internal systems more understandable and ensure the thousands of projects we run are publishing information on what they are doing. We’ve taken steps to work in the open, by blogging and tweeting about our work. And we’ve attempted to embrace innovation by experimenting with new ways of working and making our organization more accessible and inclusive.
Much of the work we’ve done so far can be seen at open.undp.org, on our blog and on our Twitter feed. We are especially pleased to be ranked as the most transparent aid organization by Publish What You Fund.
But there is much more that needs to be done. Transparency efforts are still uneven, often only lip service is given to working in the open, and funding for the nitty-gritty work is in short supply.
Ensuring public funds are used with integrity and efficiency requires more effort to make it all work. But at UNDP, we’ve taken a small step.