The Accountability Lab partners with civil society organizations in the developing world to build sustainable tools for new and innovative approaches to bolster accountability. The organization works to generate cost-effective relationships based on trust and cooperation rather than co-optation and dependency.
Listens to problems related to accountability, and analyzes core concerns within specific contexts through careful outreach. Too often, interventions are supply-driven and do not fit with on-the-ground needs or dynamics;
Recognizes valuable accountability practices across countries and builds partnerships to deploy new tools, with an emphasis on experimentation and learning from failure. In many cases, knowledge is not shared or translated into reality, and experience is not sufficiently internalized;
Engages relevant actors and builds communities of "accountapreneurs" that can curate and propagate alternative ideas to allow for scale and impact. Collective solutions to shared issues of accountability are hindered when targeted support is not strategic, timely or durable.
The Lab is supporting creative outputs outputs that can be used and refined over time. Projects and reports produced by a large number of organizations working in this domain are impractical for use and often do not lead to sustained interest or change. Verbose documents are used as doorstops and expensive conferences are quickly forgotten.
An emphasis on building a practical toolbox and the participatory communities around it provides a much more useable and useful basis for citizens to take ownership of accountability activities.
The Accountability Lab partnerships is focusing on areas of accountability that are critical to positive reform but are not given sufficient attention or are misunderstood. Too often, accountability is thought about in terms of financial corruption. While this is important, the environment for problems of this sort are defined by a broader set of accountabilities - relating to behaviors and decision-making.
The Lab is focusing on difficult contexts with strategic importance and identified entry points for positive reform. The pilot countries are Nepal and Liberia, with further roll-out expected in 2014. An important part of the work is based on the premise that there is not enough understanding or sharing of knowledge on issues of accountability across varied contexts.
The Accountability Lab is registered as a 501(c)(3) status non-profit organization in the United States, and has locally-registered entities in Liberia and Nepal.