Mapping the Global Transparency Ecosystem: Crowdsourcing for Clarity

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In advocacy, knowing who your friends are is half the battle. With this in mind, Sunlight Foundation has gone about compiling and curating a list of international organizations working on open government issues in their own countries or regions, an effort that brings a touch of clarity to an unwieldy transparency ecosystem. The spreadsheet can be viewed here and any organization or project that is missing from the list is encouraged to fill out this brief survey. While Sunlight may be taking the lead here, we see this as a project that is by the community and for the community — so please contribute!

After several months of gathering information from transparency-related organizations, our repository was made public in late May and was received with enthusiasm by many members of the community. Since its launch, over 40 organizations from every corner of the globe have requested that their work be included. We were happy to add them to the list and are excited to continue to hear from new organizations and new projects. We know there are a number of groups doing incredible work that are still not included on this list and we hope to hear from those organizations very soon.

Opacity is an odd characteristic for the global open government community to embody. And too often the work that is being done in neighboring countries or by organizations addressing different issues is lost in the milieu. That is why efforts like our NGO repository, such as the Transparency and Accountability Initiative and Revenue Watch attempt to map the field of players in the extractive industries transparency movement, are so important. The growing list of organizations that are working towards greater openness constitutes a strong global movement, one that will be most effectively leveraged when all participants and efforts are recognized.

Mapping the players is an important and empowering task for the international open gov community; however, understanding the range of issues that these organizations work on — from legislative openness to access to information to civic participation — is equally important. Categorizing and mapping the issues that matter to the open government community will be an important task going forward.

One such effort worth highlighting is Global Integrity’s tagging of Open Government Partnership commitments. OGP commitments are complex and difficult to analyze, making GI’s tagging efforts a necessary step in tracking trends, identifying strengths, and addressing weaknesses. Significantly, the categories that were most frequently tagged in country OGP commitments were also the most popular issues for organizations on our list. Access to information, budget and financial transparency, citizen participation, anti-corruption and open data were among the ten most commonly tagged issues addressed in OGP action plans and were also the most common issues taken up by organizations on our list.

Just to reiterate, the NGO list is a living project, not a final product. We will continue to gather information on transparency oriented organizations and urge you to fill out this survey if you are not included in the repository. Only through consistent effort and continued assistance from civil society organizations around the world will this project continue be of value.

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