Washington, D.C.—The Millennium Challenge Corporation called for improvements in measuring corruption after co-hosting a workshop with experts and data scientists held at the OpenGov Hub, a venue in Washington that brings together organizations working to broaden the open government agenda.
Global Integrity—an organization dedicated to providing data and technology that links reformers working on open government, transparency and accountability—co-hosted the workshop with MCC.
With the support of Omidyar Network and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the workshop marked a watershed moment for organizations intending to establish an alliance to improve the collection and use of governance data—informally dubbed the “Governance Data Alliance.”
The goal of the alliance is to serve as a vehicle for communication, collaboration and feedback between data producers and users.
The workshop’s participants expressed concerns about a lack of coordination among the producers and users of governance and transparency data. The lack of coordination has created challenges for actual data users such as MCC and other government agencies, donors, media, private companies, and individual researchers.
The workshop was part of MCC’s ongoing efforts to ensure it uses the best governance data available to identify partner countries that share the agency’s commitment to fighting corruption. MCC uses data generated by data producing institutions to assess foreign governments’ actions in fighting corruption.
“If you want to take corruption seriously, you have to take its measurement seriously,” MCC’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Sheila Herrling said. “At MCC, we rely upon good quality public data created by third-party expert institutions to identify partner countries that are well-governed,” she added.
“MCC has always made democratic governance and anti-corruption a priority. MCC’s continued interest in improving the way the world measures corruption and its participation in the governance data alliance is consistent with MCC’s continued commitment to measuring what matters around the world,” said Morton H. Halperin, Senior Advisor at the Open Society Foundations and the Open Society Policy Center and MCC Board Member.
MCC uses annual scorecards to evaluate countries on their commitment to ruling justly, investing in their people and economic freedom. Comprising 20 indicators—including the control of corruption indicator produced annually by the Brookings Institution and World Bank—the scorecards help MCC’s Board of Directors determine whether poor countries are well-governed and eligible to receive funding.
MCC’s grants, also known as compacts, have the goal of helping partner countries to reduce poverty by mobilizing economic growth. Countries cannot pass—defined as scoring above the median—MCC’s scorecards without passing the control of corruption indicator.
The indicator measures the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain. It also measures capture of the state by elites and private interests. MCC has utilized this indicator as a benchmark for committing nearly $10 billion over the last decade in more than 50 countries.
MCC has been encouraging data producing institutions to work to expand their coverage of evidence-based corruption assessments, and to make data on corruption more transparent, accessible, and useable. MCC’s work specifically stands to benefit from modernized tools or improved indicators that better capture government actions to fight corruption and the direct experiences of corruption by both citizens and private firms internationally.
MCC is not alone in recognizing the need for more specific, actionable measures to fight corruption and promote transparency and accountability. Corruption hinders economic growth by increasing costs, lowering productivity, discouraging investment, and reducing confidence in public institutions. American businesses need government agencies to help create business friendly environments that are free from corruption and conducive to job creation—at home and abroad.
MCC is an innovative and independent U.S. agency that is working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created by the U.S. Congress in January 2004, with strong bipartisan support, MCC provides time-limited grants to countries that demonstrate a commitment to good governance, investments in people and economic freedom.