We co-organized a unique “Follow the Money” workshop with the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI) on January 20-21 in Berlin as part of the TABridge program.
We enjoyed working with colleagues from TAI, FabRiders and other great organizations to co-facilitate a strategic working session with activists, journalists, technologists and funders seeking new and better ways to use technology to to “Follow the Money” and improve accountability on the parts of governments, corporations, and other powerful stakeholders who often operate in non-transparent ways. Check out the goals and intended outcomes of the event on the TA Bridge blog.
The ability to understand where money has come from, how it’s used and to whom it goes is vital to a huge range of social goals, such as improving service delivery, combatting corruption, protecting the environment and monitoring political influence.
Technology can provide powerful tools to trace such financial flows, between areas such as contracts, payments, revenues and budgets, between individuals and organisations and between countries. But technology is rarely enough to bring change on its own–tools need to be nested in broader approaches that account for the realities of power. And progress often needs shared approaches and collaboration with new allies.
What did the participants do in the Berlin workshop?
- Identified concrete potential areas of work for Follow the Money groups, and foster collaborations that can have real impact.
- Shared learning about when tech adds value, when it doesn’t, and what it takes to bring real impact. What types of collaboration, capacity-building and funding modalities do we really need?
- Planned new resources to share with others, sourced from the workshop and other practical work done to date.
The areas of potential work were chosen by the participants but they could focus on problems at different levels: from following spending on local service delivery in specific countries, to tracking how companies and individuals are moving money internationally, to solving collective challenges like standardizing data formats and integrating data sets.
Our work was guided by the understanding that technology can be central to many new solutions, but that sometimes the most valuable solutions do not rely primarily on tech or on tech alone.