These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
'Many vested interests benefit from a lack of open government'
Public Leaders Network
“In the first of a series of interviews with speakers and attendees at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit 2013, we talk to Professor Jonathan Fox, of the school of international service, American University, Washington.
He will moderate a session in which the founding eight OGP countries will present their two-year national action plans as well as reflect on their first progress report from the OGP's independent reporting mechanism. The OGP was launched in 2011, and is aimed at making governments more transparent and accountable.” READ MORE
Aid agencies in the high-tech era: Still relevant?
“Through the use of modern technology, everyone has the potential to become an aid worker. As International Federation of the Red Cross Secretary-General Bekele Geleta noted last week in an exclusive guest editorial for Devex, some people are turning first to social media rather than TV news programs to find out about the latest disasters, volunteer online to manage crisis maps, and use apps to offer their services to those in need of help.
Does this mean technology will eventually make aid agencies obsolete? The answer from Devex readers has been a resounding ‘no.’” READ MORE
Europe Can Set the Standard on Anti-Money Laundering
Financial Transparency Coalition
“Money launderers, corrupt politicians, tax dodgers and traffickers of all sorts rely on the same things to move their ill-gotten gains. They need legal structures that allow them to hide their identity.
This often happens through anonymous companies whose beneficial ownership is hidden. European leaders have a unique chance to curb these shell companies in the ongoing review of the European Union’s anti-money laundering rules.
To ensure cash or assets are efficiently processed, corrupt officials and politicians require professional bankers, lawyers and accountants willing to help them.” READ MORE
When every argument begins with “is it better than cash?”
“Kevin Grier grumbles about the IDA, arguing that its investments couldn’t possibly stack up to cash transfers:
The last 3 year replenishment of IDA was for 49.3 billion dollars. So for a decade of IDA, we can use 150 billion dollars as a cost number. People, for $150 billion dollars, you could give 75 million people each $2000 in cold hard cash. From my point of view, that sounds a lot better than giving them “access” to services. Now sure, there are aid agencies worse than the IDA (phone call for USAID), but there is nothing in Mombrial’s post that backs up his claim that the IDA is a good investment, and in my opinion, it’s actually a bad investment relative to unconditional cash transfers.
Even without the growing body of empirical evidence indicating that just giving cash is an incredibly cost-effective way to increase welfare, there is an extremely compelling theoretical case to be made for cash transfers. Poor households have preferences (replace these with `needs’ if you are so inclined, although there are important distinctions between the two), and no one will ever have better information on these preferences than these households. Transferring households cash allows them to best allocate these new resources to meet these preferences – otherwise, we run the risk of wasting resources on stuff that households just don’t want.* Combine this with the fact that cash transfers are getting quite easy to make, especially in the era of mobile money, and they appear to be a reasonable standard by which to compare all other interventions.” READ MORE
How to Leverage Online Games for Social Impact
“Games have been a point of contention in the education technology field for well over a decade, but thanks to the raw determination of Henry Jenkins, James Gee, Katie Salen and other game enthusiasts, the deconstruction of the games paradox has made space for games with social impact.
I am Ariam Mogos and recently I had the opportunity to participate in the DC Tech Salon on “How Can Serious Online Games Improve Development Impact”, and I must admit that the conversation felt a bit top-down.
At this roundtable discussion, folks from the World Bank, USAID, the Woodrow Wilson Center and Zenimax spoke of their successes and failures, and it was evident everyone believed the development community is making significant strides. Many salon participants were concerned with how games could be more fun and how to ensure youth were engaged with game play vs game mechanics.” READ MORE
Policy & Internet
“Academic observers and public intellectuals frequently criticize mass email action alerts as “slacktivism” or “clicktivism,” arguing that the lowered transaction costs of the medium produce a novel form of activism that carries with it hidden costs and dangers for the public sphere. This article challenges those claims, relying on a combination of personal observation within the advocacy community and on a new quantitative dataset of advocacy group email activity to articulate three points. First,that mass emails are functionally equivalent to the photocopied and faxed petitions and postcards of “offline” activism, and represent a difference-of-degree rather thana difference-in-kind. Second, that such low-quality, high-volume actions are a singletactic in the strategic repertoire of advocacy groups, thus reducing cause for concern about their limited effect in isolation. Third, that the empirical reality of email activation practices has little in common with the dire predictions offered by common critiques. The article responds to a previous Policy & Internetarticle: ‘TheCase Against Mass E-mails.’” READ MORE