The Open Society Foundations (OSF) seeks a consultant(s) to help us better understand learning needs in places experiencing a political opening for anti-corruption reform.
Anti-corruption windows of opportunity – often sparked by public outrage at a corruption scandal or a corruption-charged election – can present once-in-a-generation opportunities for improving governance. These windows are becoming increasingly prevalent – as seen in places like Slovakia, Armenia, South Africa, Angola, and Malaysia – but they are typically open only briefly.
Our perception is that reformers (in civil society and government) often struggle to maximize the potential of these windows, in part due to a lack of easy access to relevant lessons from elsewhere. Leaders in these settings may grapple with a difficult set of new questions, such as:
· How do we establish new modes for civil society and government to relate to each other?
· How do we identify which anti-corruption reform priorities to focus on first? How do we find the right balance between punitive action for past corruption and systemic action to prevent future corruption? How do we keep punitive efforts depoliticized and impartial?
· How do we obtain alignment on reform priorities with key international players (e.g., multilateral development banks, funders, diplomatic missions)?
· How can we quickly scale our organizational capacity and pursue an ambitious new agenda in a government staffed by the same career officials?
· How do we protect against physical, digital, and other threats in this new environment?
How do we mitigate the inevitable backlash against our efforts and contain spoilers?
· How can we communicate with the public on their plans, progress, successes and failures to keep public momentum?
· How can the spike in public interest in anti-corruption translate into longer-term civic engagement? How can elite anti-corruption experts connect with everyday citizens?
· How can high-level government buy-in for serious reform be most effectively sustained?
Without answers to these strategic, technical, and organizational questions, momentum may dissipate or be diverted into superficial “quick fixes” – leaving behind greater public disillusionment.
In an attempt to answer the questions they face, civil society leaders and government reformers often spend precious time during an anti-corruption window scrambling to identify international experts and make sense of the maze of multilateral anti-corruption resources. This sometimes takes the form of study trips to other countries, as was done by Ukrainian NGOs in the wake of the Maidan Revolution, or a plethora of seminars with international organizations. Historic antagonism between civic actors and government may result in parallel learning efforts that are duplicative and reinforce civic distrust. Ultimately, the circuitous treasure hunt for useful advice can distract key leaders, squander precious time, and ultimately may not even result in securing the right guidance.
OSF seeks to better understand the learning needs of civil society and government during anti-corruption political openings and identify steps that we, and other donors, might take to help address those needs. In this context, “learning” means locally relevant knowledge/skills, particularly based on lessons from reform processes elsewhere. This includes not just technical guidance but also insight into some of the thorny political and organizational challenges that arise during political transitions. (Note: Our hypothesis is that a key gap during these windows of opportunity is learning but we are open to identifying other major constraints that philanthropy could help address.)
You can find more information on the proposed activities and how to apply in the attached TOR.
About the Organization
The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.
We seek to strengthen the rule of law; respect for human rights, minorities, and a diversity of opinions; democratically elected governments; and a civil society that helps keep government power in check.
We help to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.
We implement initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media.
We build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information.
Working in every part of the world, the Open Society Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.