HackCorruption: Leveraging Technology & Building Community to Fight Corruption

August 22, 2023 Strategic Advisory Services Kelley Sams, Rebecca Warner
Thought Leadership

Corruption is an endemic problem when individuals in positions of power prioritize personal gain over the welfare of the general public. Whether it’s government officials awarding contracts for personal benefit or private sector manipulation through bribery, extortion, and opacity, corruption undermines the very foundations of a just and equitable society.

The impact of corruption extends far beyond individual cases, disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations and worsening existing inequalities. Corruption also hampers development, undermines fair competition, and erodes social trust crucial for sustaining democratic systems. Addressing this issue requires innovative solutions that disrupt opaque and exploitative power dynamics; it’s under this idea that HackCorruption was formed.

Developing digital tools in a community of anti-corruption innovators

HackCorruption—a groundbreaking project led by Accountability Lab and implemented in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise and DG—is a series of hackathons bringing people together to leverage emerging technology to co-create anti-corruption solutions. Unlike traditional hackathons, participants don’t need to be experts in digital technology in order to participate. DG provides technical assistance and mentorship to participants from a variety of social and professional backgrounds with a vested interest in fighting for better governance.  

But the project’s focus on developing innovative digital tools to fight corruption is just the tip of the iceberg. HackCorruption is unique in that its true essence lies in the relationships forged and the new ideas that emerge, transcending borders and boundaries. At its core, HackCorruption is a community of anti-corruption activists working together to effect positive change in their respective countries and find solutions to transnational corruption.

DG’s involvement in combating corruption has long centered on leveraging data and tech for the public good. Our expertise in using data as a tool for positive change helps uncover corruption’s hidden patterns and consequences, and by creating digital tools that prioritize user experience and engagement, we ensure that technology is accessible and impactful to those who need it the most. Working as technical advisors in HackCorruption is a great fit with DG’s mission to drive the ethical, sustainable, and impactful use of technology.

However, over 20 years of experience has shown us that technology alone cannot solve the world’s trickiest problems. We take a collaboration, learning, and adaptation lens in all of our work, and value sharing back what we have learned in overcoming barriers and challenges to implementing sustainable, well-governed digital and data ecosystems. Working in collaboration with our partners and HackCorruption’s talented cohort of participants from the civic tech, civil society, and activist arenas has demonstrated the power of partnership from diverse groups to maximize impact. This collaborative effort exemplifies the best of technology, knowledge sharing, and community building to tackle one of society’s most entrenched issues.

Photo by: Accountability Lab

HackCorruption has a unique approach to building an inclusive community of digitally savvy anti-corruption innovators, working together to bring new ideas that have the potential to change patterns of governance in regions across the globe. I’m proud of DG’s role supporting these social entrepreneurs with mentorship and advice on the data and digital approaches that can help them succeed.

Josh Powell CEO

The impacts of HackCorruption have been significant:

  • Innovative digital tools: Participants work together to design and build unique digital tools that may be scaled up and used by international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), governments, and in the private sector to increase transparency and accountability.
  • Catalyzing a movement: HackCorruption is catalyzing a movement that uses technology and civic engagement to counteract corruption and shift power toward civil society. 
  • Community building: Participants in HackCorruption are committed to making a difference and working in a space that transcends institutions, borders, and boundaries. They realize their potential to challenge corruption and shape a better world together.

The fight against corruption is not an isolated battle; it’s a global movement driven by individuals and collaborative efforts. With DG’s technical expertise and commitment to leveraging data for good, this project exemplifies the potential to transform societies and create a world where accountability, justice, and equality prevail. As the next round of HackCorruption kicks off in Colombia for a cohort that includes participants from six Latin American countries, we can anticipate a new class of changemakers working for a brighter, fairer future for all. 

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