WatchDog Watcher

In 2008, Italy’s deputy finance minister published online the declared incomes and corresponding taxes paid by everyone in the country. Vincenzo Visco had led the government’s campaign against tax evasion and believed that Italy’s debt had reached disastrous levels. He said the publication of tax data was “an exercise of transparency, of democracy.” That exercise, however, quickly ended as Italy’s data protection agency ordered the information taken down after a day, saying that its publication violated privacy.

Taxes most everywhere are a controversial issue – just ask Gerard Depardieu, who fled the high taxes of his native France and accepted the offer of Russian citizenship last week. Around the world, many governments are proposing painful solutions to the problem of public debt and imposing heavier tax burdens on citizens. As government services are cut because public coffers are bare, public attention is shifting to the taxes paid – or not…

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Local researchers needed for OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism

The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is seeking individuals to carry out research at the national level in 8 countries to assess government progress on implementation of OGP Action Plans.

The first 8 countries to be evaluated in 2013 include Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States.

This week in transparency and accountability

Great and easy to read background on the work of Open Corporates and why unique ID for companies would be helpful (and how they could be used in practice) –

T/AI are seeking feedback on the Opening Government publication, there’s a short survey (5 mins) to fill in here

O’reilly publication on open government now available in honor of Aaron Swartz:

Center for Effective Government views on what the second Obama administration should do on open government

More movement around opening up extractive industry contracts. Increasingly, I think contracts are a ‘silo-buster’, ie you open them up, you help open up a number of sectors (e.g. extractives, infrastructure, land deals etc.)

More on the silo-busting topic, and why IATI is also relevant for climate finance:

Is there a global anti-corruption movement? Anne Applebaum thinks so (older post, but I’ve been mulling over this with some colleagues, more soon)

And last but not least, the release of the 2012 Open Budget Survey,  with a very cool data explorer powered by our friends at the Open Knowledge Foundation

On the ‘to read’ list:
Rajkumar, A. and Swaroop, V, “Public Spending on outcomes: Does governance matter?”, Journal of Development Economics, 86 (2008), 96-111

First post

Welcome to my blog. I used to always badger friends and colleagues in the open government movement for what they read ‘what are you reading now? what’s the best article you’ve come across?’ etc. Looking around for what great folks like Rakesh Rajani at Twaweza, Warren Krafchik at IBP, Nathaniel Heller at Global Integrity and others were reading, whether blogs, policy papers, articles, books etc. Twitter solved that problem for me at first – it provided a great way to curate and filter content. I can now follow rakesh, warren and nathaniel and learn first hand, without hassling them, what they are reading. But right now, there’s so much going on in the open government field, 2013 is such an exciting year between the upcoming G8’s focus on transparency, the Open Government Partnership’s landmark year, the High Level Panel’s report on post-2015 that it’s almost too much to follow and keep track. So for what it’s worth, I’m keeping a tab on key blogs, papers, books, I’ve read or intend to read, and similar to my colleague David Sasaki at Omidyar Network, intend to post these in a ‘week in transparency/accountability’ post every Friday. I hope you find it useful!