Tech projects for transparency – a new guide to the ‘Fundamentals’ that deliver impact and save money

LONDON, 17 June 2014—The Transparency and Accountability Initiative is proud to launch a practical new guide for transparency campaigners planning and executing technology projects.

'Fundamentals' cover page‘Fundamentals for Using Technology in Transparency and Accountability Organisations’ presents clear, step-by-step guidance to the key phases in a technology project, from defining your strategy, to spending wisely, to tracking outcomes.

The guide is also designed to help funders identify projects with the potential to succeed and provide effective support to grantees.

Too often, technology projects burn money and staff time, but still lack impact. In ‘Fundamentals,’ author Dirk Slater and experts from our TABridge network distil years of experience into the principles and steps that drive success in technology projects. The guide will help you:

  • Clarify why you’re creating your technology project and how it contributes to your overall organisational strategy.
  • Ensure you have the internal capacity and external expertise to manage the project.
  • Build in early and regular evaluations of your progress so that rather than end up with an expensive failure, you can detect problems early and adjust as you go.

Vanessa Herringshaw, director of the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, said, “Digital tools have great potential to improve transparency, but if we’re honest, it’s also really easy to get it wrong.  Developing technologies to expose corruption and engage citizens in the fight for accountable government demands significant resources, but without smart planning, money gets wasted and opportunities get lost. The guide is a roadmap for NGOs and funders who want to get tech right.”

“Technology is not a panacea,” said Rakesh Rajani, civil society co-chair of the Open Government Partnership and head of East African CSO Twaweza, “It is one piece in larger social change. T/AI’s ‘Fundamentals’ guide addresses the reality that tools that don’t match the local context or aren’t linked into other approaches can’t solve the deep problems that weaken government accountability or citizen mobilization alone. The guide seeks to help people think through these needs and linkages, and make more effective choices.”

‘Fundamentals’ is presented in six chapters, which can be used separately or as a unit:

It also includes appendices that help organisations to match technology tactics to different stakeholders; ensure that projects are guided by a user-centred approach; ask the right questions when planning mobile-based outreach; and enlist data and open data effectively for advocacy.

To support our community of practice and deepen the impact of the guide, the Transparency and Accountability Initiative is hosting a series of webinars this spring and summer, based on the guide’s key recommendations.

For easy use, ‘Fundamentals’ is available to read online or to download in full or chapter by chapter. Learn more and get started at:


About the Author

Dirk Slater is a co-organizer of Transparency and Accountability Initiative’s TABridge project. He has two decades of experience working with grassroots activists and advocates to harness the power of information by gathering, packaging, distributing and protecting it. You can learn more about him and his work at FabRiders.

About TABridge

Web and mobile technologies can help citizens and leaders improve transparency, uncover corruption and collaborate on governance, but the full potential of technology often remains untapped. The TABridge network was created in 2011 to improve the use of technology by: linking technology experts with policy campaigners; filling gaps in knowledge about digital tools online strategy; improving technology funding approaches; and increasing technology groups’ understanding of governance and transparency policy, particularly in the developing world.

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