CGD in the News

Crowdsourcing: Putting the "Public" Back in the Public Sector (Huffington Post)

June 06, 2011

President Nancy Birdsall and vice president of communications Lawrence MacDonald were quoted in a Huffington Post article about selecting the new leader of the IMF.

From the article

If the global financial crisis taught us anything, it's that leaving the fate of our collective economic health in the hands of a select few members of an exclusive club with their own narrow agenda is no longer a credible way of doing business. That's true for almost every institution involved, from the banks that crafted impenetrable mortgage bundles for gambling purposes to the decision-making bodies that oversee international economic stability.

While reforming the private institutions that made a casino out of the U.S. housing market may be proceeding at a tepid pace, change at big public sector institutions such as the International Monetary Fund is gaining speed.

It won't be much longer that the IMF, created after World War II, can select its leadership like it's still the 1940s -- in back room conversations between the Americans and Europeans, who pool their majority of weighted votes behind a European and leave no real room for other qualified candidates from around the world. There is a "stench of colonialism wafting around the IMF," as Nancy Birdsall, president of the Center for Global Development puts it bluntly.

This arcane old selection process is confronting new realities of the 21st century: emerging economies that deserve a bigger say because their significant contribution to the global economy is undeniable and unstoppable, and a world that has come to expect much more openness and fairness from its public sector institutions.

So who, in fairness and based on merit, should be the next leader of the IMF? Birdsall and the CDG have opened the floor to everyone with an opinion. They are crowdsourcing input through a survey about candidates and what the process and qualifications for selection should be. And the crowd, it turns out, has good judgment.

"We have good reason to believe the results represent the collective interest of the international community. Certainly it reflects opinion more than the current IMF leadership, who have incentives beyond just what they think would make these institutions run well," explains Lawrence MacDonald, the CGD's vice president for communications and policy outreach.

Read it Here.