Sunday, 31 January 2016

Transparency-Accountability Illusions (Feb-Mar 2016)

Tricks for Feigning Good Practice

God, who gets invited to dinner at your place?
How do we get on your guest list?
Walk straight, act right, tell the truth.
Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable.
Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe.
You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this.

This entry continues the call to the international church-mission community (CMC) to practice the highest standards of transparency and accountability. It is meant to both encourage and challenge all of us--you and me, right here and right now--and not just to be applicable to "someone out there somewhere" or "all those bad people out there."

Part One features “Ten Tactics for Feigning Good Practice,” a listing of manipulative maneuvers for avoiding transparency and accountability (things we don't want to do!). Part Two gives a short update on the international Nordic Capital Investment KB et al. fraud (NCI): specifically the request for assistance from the Shine the Light—Together petition and its signatories. Part Three provides five new resources for good governance and preventing/confronting corruption.

Part One
Ten Tactics for Feigning Good Practice
Here are some tactical tricks that  illustrate what not to do when we and organizations are called upon to transparently give an account—be it via routine self-assessments, post-mortem reviews of mistakes, or special requests to explain our actions. These tactics are intentional illusions and manipulative maneuvers that seemingly protect ourselves and our organizations. Ultimately, however they undermine our credibility, conscience, and anti-corruption safeguards. Don’t go there. And don’t remain silent when you see them.
1. Delegate the matter to someone else internally--diffuse it, distance yourself from it—and do everything to avoid an independent review.
2. Avoid, reword, or repackage, the issues--obfuscate the facts, or at least talk tentatively or vaguely about some mistakes maybe in the past and that you or someone could probably have done a better job…but go no further; rationalize and/or disguise any culpability.
3. Focus on minor or “other” things so as to look like you are focusing on the central things, punctuating it all with the language of transparency-accountability.
4. Appeal to your “integrity and to “acting with the highest standards" without demonstrating either.
5. Point out your past track record. Highlight anything positive that you are doing/contributing now.
6. Ask and assume that people should trust you without verification or at least offer some general assurances that you have or will be looking into the matter and all is OK.
7. State that you are under attack or at least that you are not being treated fairly or that people just don’t understand.
8. Mention other peoples’ (alleged) problems, question their motives and credibility; dress someone else in your own dirty clothes, especially if they are noisome question-askers or whistleblowers.

9. Prop up the “good old boys’ leadership club,” reshuffle the leadership deck if necessary yet without changing leaders or their power or how they can cover for each other in the name of “loyalty” and on behalf of the “greater good,” and try to hold out until the dust settles and the “uncomfortable” stuff hopefully goes away.
10. So in short, don’t really do anything with real transparency and accountability; rather, maintain your self-interests, lifestyle, affiliations, and illusions of moral congruity, even if it means recalibrating your conscience—essentially, acting corruptly via complicity, cover-ups, and cowardice.

Part Two
NCI and Petition Updates
We are not aware of any further action undertaken by organizations to investigate how they may have been affected by NCI. Click here to see the latest update of the paper trail: (August 2014 through January 2016).

It has been over eight years since the NCI fraud began to be publically confronted (2007).  And it has been nearly 18 months since four of the organizations included in the petition and several of their leaders were formally presented with the petition. We thus continue the resolute, public call a) for assistance from all those affected by the NCI fraud; and b) for verifiable disclosures/independent reviews (transparency and accountability) by four of the organisations listed in the Shine the Light-Together petition. Leaders in Youth With a Mission, Mercy Ships, Youth For Christ, and Crossroads Church received separate email-letters in August 2014 regarding the Shine the Light-Together petition with the names and comments of 100+ people who signed it

It is not too late for the organizations and people affected by NCI to call for and authorize independent reviews. It is not too late to model good financial practice and integrity, for their own sake and for that of the CMC and general public.

Part Three
Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Resources
This weblog regularly posts resources to support good practice for preventing and confronting corruption. Here are five more with a variety of emphases ranging from the individual to the institutional to the international.

--Corruption Free Churches Are Possible: Experiences, Values, and Solutions (2010), by Christoph St├╝ckelberger, Globethics. “This book…is addressed to people in leadership positions in churches and church-related institutions. It highlights the important challenge of the need to enhance transparency and accountability…It holds out the clear hope that this is possible and offers practical tools for churches and institutions to work towards this aim…In church advocacy towards governments and international organisations we often talk of ‘speaking the truth to power’. This book calls churches to also speak the truth regarding corruption to our own institutions. Even in secular countries religious leaders are often viewed as having a ‘moral’ authority, and this is undermined when Christians, churches and religious institutions behave corruptly.” (Preface, p. 7, bold font added fro emphasis)

--Guidelines for Investigations  (2015, revised)  CHS Alliance. This tool assists those in humanitarian and development contexts who conduct or manage investigations into serious allegations, such as sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), fraud and corruption, committed by staff. Also available in French and Spanish.

--Improving Leadership and Governance in Nonprofit Organizations, Corsera Course by Vic Murry, PhD and Yvonne Harrison, PhD, University  of Albany, State University of New York Enroll—Starts 15 February 2016 “This Specialization consists of three courses plus a Capstone Project: (1) Course 1 topics: The unique nature of the nonprofit sector in society; leadership in nonprofit organizations and the governance process. (2) Course 2 topics: The roles and responsibilities of nonprofit organization boards of directors and the challenges in carrying them out effectively. (3) Course 3 topics: The critical factors that impact the ability of the board to govern and how to intentionally change them into positive influences. The Capstone Project: How to help real boards overcome inertia and resistance to change and improve their governance effectiveness in an applied service learning experience.” See also the the Welcome Video.

--Freedom from Corruption: A Curriculum for People Power Movements, Campaigns, and Civic Initiatives, Shaazka Beyerle, Senior Advisor, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. “This is a free curriculum for members of civil society, activists, organizers, and concerned citizens about how to effectively struggle against corruption from the bottom up.”

--Curtailing Corruption: People Power for Accountability and Justice (2014). How do citizens counter corruption and exact accountability from power holders? What strategic value does people power bring to the anticorruption struggle? Can bottom-up, citizen-based strategies complement and reinforce top-down anticorruption efforts? Addressing these questions—and demonstrating the critical role of grassroots efforts in the anticorruption/accountability equation—Shaazka Beyerle explores how millions of people around the world have refused to be victims of corruption and become instead the protagonists of successful nonviolent civic movements to gain accountability and promote positive political, social, and economic change.” Shaazka Beyerle, Senior Advisor, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
Note: Here is an alternative version of the opening quote.
It is another way, albeit framed negatively, to encourage right living...
and good practice.

Want to get blacklisted by God?
Walk crooked, act wrongly, tell lies.
Hurt your friends, blame your neighbor, despise the virtuous.
Break your word to protect your interests, make a dishonest living, take bribes.
You’ll never get invited to hang out with God if you live like this.
Adapted from Psalm 15, The Message

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