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Dear GOV/LAB Community,

As our students and partners gear up for some exciting summer research collaborations, we’re taking a moment to reflect back on a busy year.

From the field, we studied whether new civic training models help leaders of the poor participate more in village assemblies in the Philippines. Now, we’re working with partners to follow up on how these newly-trained leaders have fared in local elections. We’re testing if community policing in Liberia can improve citizen trust, and we’re exploring alternatives to forced slum evictions with partners in Nigeria. Our team also presented research revealing the poor state of access to information in East Africa at Twaweza’s Evidence and Ideas event in Dar es Salaam.

In the news, The Economist featured our partners at Accountability Lab for their novel approach ‘naming and faming’ civil servants to promote government integrity and anti-corruption efforts. The New York Times highlighted GOV/LAB Faculty Director Lily Tsai’s seminal work on ‘Accountability without Democracy’ in China to explain how citizens can voice demands to government, even in contexts with closed civic spaces.

In Mexico, our partner won a prize for innovation in transparency, with a new website that helps people with low tech literacy find information about government services. We’re also analyzing field data from Yucatan to see whether local government officials have the same policy priorities as their constituents, in order to better understand what motivates bureaucrats’ behavior.

In addition to building partnerships and conducting research, we’ve spent a big part of this year looking at how to best use evidence on the ground, for practitioners and donors. To do so, we joined the Learning Collaborative, led by civil society in the Global South, which focuses on systematic learning on transparency, accountability, and participation. We will soon launch an evidence review on when transparency leads to accountability and research briefs summarizing our work to date.

If you’re keen to do some summer reading, we’ve put together a GOV/LAB curriculum on practitioner-academic collaborations and the theory behind our work.

As always, your feedback and input is welcome, so please send us a note ( We look forward to being in touch soon!

To follow our work throughout the year, check out our website for new updates and research collaborations.

  • Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. Joining an MIT-wide movement, we drafted a statement to outline the values that guide our research and how we work with partners.
  • Call for Abstracts #PBD18. We are hosting the 3rd annual Political Behavior of Development Conference November 9th with a hackathon November 8th.
  • Data Science to Solve Social Problems. Our seminar series brought together researchers and practitioners to discuss technical solutions to real world social problems.
  • Committed to Caring. MIT GOV/LAB Faculty Director Lily Tsai named 2017-2018 Committed to Caring Award recipient by graduate students for great mentorship.

(Exploratory field work with Video Volunteers in Bihar, India. Alisa Zomer).