Transparency, Participation and Accountability

Goal: To support organizations that inform and empower citizens to engage with governments to improve public services.

In too many places around the world, the quality of health care, education, sanitation, and other government services is poor, especially for the people who need them most. Often, the most egregious problems stem from a lack of government accountability. The result? Even as economies grow, and social services budgets increase, governments often fail to address the needs of their citizens, especially the poorest ones.

The Hewlett Foundation’s Global Development and Population program seeks to address this problem by supporting efforts to increase transparency, participation and accountability. When citizens have access to knowledge about government actions, and also are able to engage those in power, they can hold government accountable and ensure the delivery of quality public services.

Our strategy begins with establishing a favorable enabling environment. Since 2004, this has included support for creating and reinforcing norms and standards that enable greater transparency and participation, and ensuring information on resources and service quality is available, usable and – in some cases – generated by citizens. We have supported, for example, the Open Government Partnership, which encourages national governments and large donor institutions to implement a host of global norms on transparency, including the International Aid Transparency Initiative, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the Natural Resource Charter, and the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency.

In addition, our grantmaking fosters better organized citizen groups that can then engender more responsive governments. We invest in strengthening the capacity of citizens to take action around service delivery challenges, and build and strengthen channels that provide citizens constructive ways to engage with all levels of government.

Through transparency by the public sector and participation by citizens and groups that represent their interests, we hope and expect that governments will increase their responsiveness to what people need. This will help to ensure that public services are of high-quality, leading to better health, education and other measureable improvements in people’s well-being and to a stronger, more enduring relationship between governments and citizens.

Read more about our Transparency, Participation and Accountability grantmaking strategy, updated in 2015 in English, French or Spanish