From transparent to accountable ownership: charting the path for Open Ownership’s future impact

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Open Ownership is halfway through delivering our 2022-2025 organisational strategy From transparent to accountable ownership, with a significant set of successes under our belt.

In 2021, our strategy set out how we would work to make more and higher-quality beneficial ownership (BO) data available to stakeholders within and outside of governments; to produce guidance, tools and evidence on how to implement beneficial ownership transparency (BOT) and why it matters; and to support governments, businesses and civil society to use BO data and reforms to achieve their goals.

We’ve achieved a lot. We’ve worked with nearly 40 countries to advance BOT reforms, and have provided multi-year technical assistance to develop new digital BO registers in countries including Armenia, Liberia and Nigeria. We’ve developed the world’s leading open standard for beneficial ownership data and created a wide range of technology tools to analyse and use BO data. Our flagship Open Ownership Principles distil the policy elements that enable effective implementation, and we’ve written over 20 publications containing guidance and thinking on how to implement reforms. We have generated new evidence and analysis, and documented the impact of reforms. We have shared these at national and international levels, supporting the strengthening of BOT standards and approaches by the Financial Action Task Force, International Monetary Fund and United Nations. Finally, we’ve supported several government agencies, from Argentina to Zambia, to use BO data, and have delivered training for over 200 journalists and civil society actors.

A fast-changing landscape for implementing BOT

Our work - alongside that of many other civil society organisations, implementing governments and multilateral actors alike - has ensured that BOT remains high on the global policy agenda, and that significant progress has been made towards effectively implementing reforms. Many countries have passed legislation and are now gearing up to implement the digital technology services that are required for businesses to disclose beneficial ownership, and for this information to be held and made available in a register.

This is the really hard part: building usable, easily understood online platforms that ensure businesses know what is being asked of them, and that actors who have access to the information can make use of it to achieve their goals. Doing this well takes time and specialised skills that are, more often than not, in short supply within implementing governments worldwide. How then, do we as Open Ownership best support this crucial step towards implementing effective BO reforms?

Reviewing Open Ownership’s progress

It was against this backdrop that our Management Team met recently to take stock of our progress and planned work. Our success has been driven by a significant expansion of our team - we’ve doubled in size since 2021 - and we now have a well-established and high-performing team of policy and research, implementation, technology and operational experts based across four continents. This has been enabled by new and enduring partnerships with donors including the Norwegian development agency Norad, the UK Government, the World Bank, USAID and the BHP Foundation.

At this strategic review we discussed how best we can leverage our successes to deliver a sustainable impact on the outcomes in our strategy by the end of 2025. In line with our agile approach to strategy and delivery we agreed to sharpen our focus over the next two years, and double down on the areas where we can make the most difference.

Refreshed, sharpened priorities

The result is a sharpened set of three key priorities, each measured by a tangible key result. This isn’t a new organisational strategy: we’re adapting to the evolving context of our work and incorporating our learning to hone our future approach. Over the past few weeks we have consulted our team on these priorities, and have used their thoughtful feedback to craft them into a clear guide to implementing our future work:

Priority 1: Deliver effective implementation of BOT reforms

Key result: OO’s work directly enables a number of countries to implement their BO register by the end of 2025, or to make very significant progress towards doing so.

OO’s core offer is providing deep technical expertise to support the implementation of BOT reforms. This priority will see us leverage our expertise to deliver proactive (rather than primarily demand-driven) work with a small number of countries over a sustained period of time. We want to make even more direct and significant contributions to the implementation of BOT reforms and digital registers.

Priority 2: Drive better use of BO data by government agencies

Key result: by the end of 2025, a number of government agencies are using BO data for the first time, or making significantly more and better use of BO data.

Better use of data is what ultimately delivers impact, and as more countries implement registers there is now more opportunity to support data-use. Focussing on government agencies enables us to leverage our technical assistance expertise by supporting the responsible agencies directly to adapt their workflows and technologies to use BO data.There is increasing demand for us to deliver this support.

Priority 3: Advance the global infrastructure for interoperable BO data

Key result: by the end of 2025, influential international and regional actors act to promote standardised and interoperable BO data, drawing on the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard as the go-to global standard.

Ensuring that BO data is standardised and interoperable is key to unlocking its full potential to fight transnational crime and corruption. Securing progress on this is mission-critical if BOT reforms are to deliver global change. OO’s Beneficial Ownership Data Standard is at the forefront of global thinking, and we’ll continue to better leverage this to champion the importance of standardised and interoperable data, both through using the data standard and other approaches.

For reference, our full organisational strategy outlines our strategic outcomes in more detail.

Next steps

Our next task is to operationalise this refreshed and sharpened focus, mobilising the full talents of OO’s expert teams to achieve these key results. By doing so, we’ll maximise our impact in delivering our strategy, and avoid the pitfall of an expanded organisation leading to a diluted focus.

To guide us on this journey, we’re seeking the support of an expert organisational change consultancy. We are looking for an organisation or individual contractor with significant prior expertise to work collaboratively with us to design and deliver an inclusive and thoughtful change process that supports us to achieve our goals. You can read more about this opportunity here.

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