Date added: January 31, 2016

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Information and communications technologies (ICTs) and data play an increasingly visible role in transparency and accountability initiatives (TAIs). There has been little research on how the selection of ICT tools influences the success of these initiatives. This might involve using social media to track parliamentary performance, mobile phones to conduct satisfaction surveys on public service delivery, reporting websites to document corruption, or radio to promote and facilitate political debate.

This article reports on research into TAI tool selection processes in South Africa and Kenya. Findings suggest that in many cases, tools are chosen with only limited testing of their appropriateness for the intended users in the intended contexts, despite widespread recognition among practitioners, funders and researchers that this carries significant efficiency and sustainability risks. The authors conclude by suggesting a strategy for increasing investment and effort in tool selection, in order to conserve overall project resources and minimise the risk of failure.

IDS Bulletin 47.1 Opening Governance

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