Links


Gates Foundation in collaboration with other organizations are building a unique identifier for philanthropic organizations across the globe.  The project is called BRIDGE (Basic Registry of Identified Global Entities).  The hope of the project is to collate information from millions of sources so as to create greater information sharing and to enhance transparency of the philanthropic sector. This interview with Victor Vrana of the Gates Foundation provides details on the ambitions of the project and how it came about.

Many organizations respond simultaneously during humanitarian crises and coordination between them is a challenge.  The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is working on information management practices for sharing and accessing information.  One component of this effort is to develop a standard vocabulary – the Humanitarian eXchange Language (HXL).  More information on the initiative can be found in the project website.

The Open Contracting Partnership is working on a set of data standards for information on public procurement.  OCP explains the need for standards as: Governments around the world spend an estimated US $9.5 trillion every year through contracts. Yet in most countries, information about these contracts is unavailable for public scrutiny, rendering the contracting process vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. This project aims to enhance and promote disclosure and participation in public contracting by creating a simple, machine-readable and easy-to-understand open data standard. The draft document on the data standards for procurement is available for public comments and comments will be reviewed after Sept 30, […]


The INGO Accountability Charter is a commitment of international NGOs to a high standard of transparency, accountability and effectiveness.  The Charter provides the only global, fully comprehensive and cross-sectoral accountability framework for NGOs driven by NGOs. The Charter defines standards on areas of NGOs’ work, such as governance, programme effectiveness and fundraising.  International NGOs that become members of the Charter are required to report annually on fulfilling these commitments using a reporting tool developed for the purpose.  The charter outlines 10 “Accountability commitments” viz: Respect for human rights, independence, transparency, good governance, responsible advocacy, participation, diversity/inclusion, environmental responsibility, ethical fundraising […]

Media Lab Asia “has been promoted by Department of Electronics and Information technology, MCIT, Govt. of India as a not for profit company. The objective of the company was set to bring the benefits of ICT to the common man. It started with the functional activity areas such as World Computer Affordable, ubiquitous computing and access devices, Bits for All Low Cost, High bandwidth connectivity and Tomorrow’s Tool Rurally relevant applications. However it was later changed to application areas such as ICT for Healthcare, Education, Livelihood and Empowerment of Disabled”.  

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) was formed out of a meeting on aid effectiveness held at Accra in 2009.In it, the donors agreed to public information regularly on funding, associated conditionalities and 3-5 year projection of funding. The reports are hosted by the donors in structured XML files in their own websites with a link to the IATI registry at http://www.iatiregistry.org/. I did a quick review of the information on the registry.  The database allowed me to filter files by organization, country and an assortment of other criteria.  Most of the data was provided at the aggregate level on the total funds allotted to […]


The accidental NGO and USAID transparency test: Till Bruckner writes about his effort to get information on project budgets for USAID funded NGOs in Georgia.  Here is his note on the experience: The documents are disappointingly full of blacked-out non-information. The level of disclosure varies drastically from one document to the next. Some budgets are provided in full, while others appear as blacked-out row upon row. In three cases, USAID even withheld the identity of the contractor itself. USAID explained this inconsistency saying that it was legally required to contact each grantee to give it “the opportunity to address how […]

Global Reporting Initiative has created a framework for corporations to report information on the economic, social and environmental impact of their day-to-day activities.  GRI provides standards of reporting and thousands of companies are producing ‘sustainability reports’ on the basis of their guidelines.

Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is a multilateral, multi-stakeholder initiative to bring more transparency into extractive industries such as oil, mining and gas.  The initiative recognizes that natural resources belong to people and the public revenue raised from them should reach the people.  The focus of the initiative has been on ensuring that companies disclose tax payments and governments do the same in terms of taxes they receive from companies.


XBRL India is the Indian arm of XBRL International, the international body for developing XBRL Standards for business and financial information, which is being adopted by regulators across the world.  XBRL India provides links to useful regulations and related events.

LittleSis is a free database detailing the connections between powerful people and organizations.  The name is a play on ‘big brother’ which stands for the monitoring of common people by the powerful.  Little Sis does the opposite by monitoring those in positions of power. This is a project of Public Accountability Initiative and it tracks key relationships among politicians, business leaders, lobbyists, financiers, and their affiliated institutions. It helps answer questions such as: “Who do the wealthiest Americans donate their money to? Where did White House officials work before they were appointed? Which lobbyists are married to politicians, and who do they lobby for?” […]

The Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars I lived in Syracuse, New York for five years and one of my biggest surprises was to meet a large number of committed peace activists in this very small town.  I was impressed by their courage, commitment and their sustained stand against wars and injustice.  They started a coalition along with fellow activists in other parts of Upstate New York to protest the establishment of a base to operate drones in places as far as Afghanistan.  The perfectly peaceful protests (a few of which I have taken part in) have faced many legal hassles including […]


Data Portal India: The open data portal of India. The last I checked in 2013, it had very little information, and some of the data it linked to were not available in an ‘open format’. But it is in the Beta mode, and it is a start.

MobileActive.org: MobileActive.org connects people, organizations, and resources using mobile technology for social change.

LegisPro Web by Xcential: The tool can be used to crate XML mark ups based on Akoma Ntoso format for legislations. The mark-ups are essential for comparing legislations and analyzing them with the use of technology.


Sentiment140 – A Twitter Sentiment Analysis Tool: A tool to analyze positive or negative sentiments on tweets based on search terms.

eGovernments Foundation: “eGovernments Foundation is a not-for-profit trust founded in 2003 by Nandan Nilekani and Srikanth Nadhamuni with a goal of creating an eGovernance system to improve the functioning of City Municipalities leading to efficient delivery of services to its stakeholders…eGov products have been successfully deployed in more than 275 Municipalities across the country. These include state wide implementations in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as well as large corporations like Corporation of Chennai, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Bangalore Mahanagar Palike, Nagpur Municipal Corporation and Kanpur Nagar Nigam”

A just order – The Hindu: Discusses the Supreme Court order on evergreening the patent for Gilvec and makes the argument for opening up corporate accounts when it comes to protecting patents.


The Overview Project: “Overview is an open-source tool to help journalists find stories in large amounts of data, by cleaning, visualizing and interactively exploring large document and data sets. Whether from government transparency initiatives, leaks or Freedom of Information requests, journalists are drowning in more documents than they can ever hope to read. There are good tools for searching within large document sets for names and keywords, but that doesn

Transparency Advisory Group: TAG is a group of professionals, activists, and academics with an interest in transparency and the right to information, and with the common objective of promoting transparency in governance by advising and lobbying governments and other stakeholders, especially in the South Asian region. It also conducts research and organises meetings and consultations on transparency related issues. TAG has, as members, retired and serving senior officials, information commissioners, activists and academics from South Asian countries, and from Mexico, Canada, UK, Australia, South Africa, Singapore and the USA.