Posting Date: January 18, 2021

Response Due Date: February 08, 2021

Closing time: 16:30 Hours Bangladesh Local Time

 

 

Request for Information (RFI)

USAID/Bangladesh, Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Office

Potential Advancing Good Governance and Accountability Activity

To: All Interested Respondents/Parties:

Pursuant to FAR 52.215-3 Request for Information (Oct. 1997), the United States Government, represented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bangladesh Mission, is issuing the subject Request for Information (RFI) from all interested public and private entities on key areas of engagement and opportunities to support the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) in improving good governance processes and accountability initiatives. Please note that FAR 52.215-3 provides as follows: (a) The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this solicitation or to otherwise pay for the information solicited except as an allowable cost under other contracts as provided in subsection 31.205-18, Bid and proposal costs, of the Federal Acquisition Regulation. (b) Although "proposal" and "offeror" are used in this Request for Information, your response will be treated as information only. It shall not be used as a proposal. (c) This solicitation is issued for the purpose of conducting market research and request comments and recommendations from stakeholders and to identify ways to strengthen good governance and accountability and improve government responsiveness to citizens needs and key priorities over the next 5 years. Through this RFI, USAID/Bangladesh seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities to promote good governance and accountability within the public sector, including in the open governance space.  USAID welcomes information on these topics and any relevant general feedback and comments that partners may wish to share.

This RFI is issued solely for gathering information and innovative ideas for new design planning purposes and does not constitute a Request for Applications (RFA).  Responses to this RFI are not applications and will not in any way be deemed to form any binding agreement with the RFI issuing authority. This RFI will not be construed as the U.S. Government commitment to issue any solicitation, award any other instrument, or pay for any information submitted in response to this RFI request.  Respondents are directly and fully responsible for bearing all incurred expenses associated with preparation and submission of their RFI responses.

Any funding proposals submitted in response to this request will not be considered.  Responses to this notice must be received no later than the due date and time stated above in this notice.  All materials submitted will become the property of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and will not be returned.  USAID reserves the right to use information provided by respondents for USAID’s own purposes.  While it is not the intention to make public any response to this RFI, proprietary and sensitive information must not be sent.

It is the full responsibility of interested party/ies to monitor Government Point of Entry websites, such as beta.sam.gov and Grants.gov, for release of further procurement information related to this RFI. Responding to this RFI will not give any advantage to any organizations in any subsequent procurement. USAID/Bangladesh will not respond or provide any feedback to any submissions, including comments or any questions included within their RFI submissions.  The main RFI submission must be in English; reference documents and links may be submitted in Bangla.

Thank you for your interest in sharing your views and innovative ideas with the USAID/Bangladesh Mission.        

Sincerely,

Ananciata Muyama

Contracting and Agreement Officer

USAID/Bangladesh

REQUEST for INFORMATION

Questions and Response Considerations

RFI Submission.  Eligible interested parties are encouraged to submit information and recommendations for the design of new good governance and accountability activities by the closing date and time noted on page one.  Only email submission is eligible; telephone calls and hard copy submissions are unacceptable. 

Through this RFI, USAID/Bangladesh seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities to promote good governance and accountability within the public sector, including in the open governance space.  USAID welcomes information on these topics and any relevant general feedback and comments that partners may wish to share.

Please note that FAR 52.215-3 provides as follows: (a) The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this solicitation or to otherwise pay for the information solicited except as an allowable cost under other contracts as provided in subsection 31.205-18, Bid and proposal costs, of the Federal Acquisition Regulation. (b) Although "proposal" and "offeror" are used in this Request for Information, your response will be treated as information only.  It shall not be used as a proposal. (c) This solicitation is issued for the purpose of conducting market research and request comments and recommendations from stakeholders and to identify ways to strengthen good governance and accountability and improve government responsiveness to citizens needs and key priorities over the next 5 years.

The RFI submission should be no longer than five pages. Respondents must use 11-point Times New Roman font or similar size typeset, 8.5 inch by 11-inch paper, and single-spaced pages for all narrative documents, with each page numbered consecutively. If the respondent has developed relevant reports, these reports may be included, preferably as embedded links. If the reports are not available online, they may be submitted in the attachment/s.  While the main RFI submission must be in English; reference documents and links may be submitted in Bangla.

Please do not submit applications, proposals, or resumes, as they will be discarded.  Responses will be held confidential.  Proprietary information should not be sent.  RFI submissions will not be acknowledged; nor we will send any responses.  USAID may use any information provided without incurring any obligation.  

Please submit electronic RFI information by no later than 4:30 p.m., Bangladesh time, February 08, 2021, to:  mmhussain@usaid.gov and amuyama@usaid.gov . 

USAID/Bangladesh reserves the right to incorporate any or all comments into the new solicitation document.

  1. Cover page not to exceed one (1) page.  Respondents must include all of the following information.
    1. Organization name and address.
    2. Point of contact name, telephone number, and email address.
    3. Organizational small business status.
  1. Comments and questions on the draft Concept Paper, not to exceed five (5) pages total.  Respondents may respond to any or all of the following questions/requests for comments.  (Note: USAID will not be providing responses to questions submitted.  USAID will review all comments and questions and may use them to inform the development of any activity.  USAID asks respondents not to send any additional information beyond what is requested and to adhere to the page limits mentioned.)
    1. Background and Information:  How can USAID best ensure the implementation of evidence-based good governance/anti-corruption initiatives relevant to improving the accountability and responsiveness of the GOB to citizens?  Where have there been concrete successes that a new activity might replicate or scale?  Where are these opportunities to expand work in this area, including at the subnational level?  Where are these opportunities for engagement on these issues from the GOB that can lead to improved impact, including across sectors? Which public services would be best suited for such an approach and lead themselves for improved governance?  Please highlight opportunities in Bangladesh around the use of technology and digital space to foster accountability, transparency, and open government.  Please attach reports, links or summary of reports that provide analyses and describe opportunities to build on current or past initiatives and lessons learned.
    1. Objectives and Results.  Are the initial objectives and results proposed in the draft Concept Paper achievable and/or realistic?  If not, why?  Please be specific.  Are there additional objectives or results that you believe would make this Activity more effective in achieving the stated purpose of supporting good governance and accountability in Bangladesh?  Please describe and explain why.
    1. Indicators, Milestones, and Targets.  Are there sufficient quality third-party indicators available to measure progress and achievement of the proposed objectives and results?  Can measurement gaps be addressed by custom indicators?  Please be specific and reference exact objectives/results if describing measurement gaps.  Are there any challenges related to the indicator and measurement requirements that the design team should be aware of?
    1. Gender and Vulnerable Communities.  Are there any challenges, concerns or recommended approaches to ensuring this Activity addresses transparency and accountability issues related to women and vulnerable communities that USAID should take into consideration?
    1. Partnership and Collaboration.  USAID is also hoping to gather information from Bangladeshi civil society, NGOs, think tanks and institutions and other partners about potential collaboration with USAID to advance good governance initiatives to enhance transparency and accountability.  What are the best ways to work with and empower local partners, systems, effective local partnerships, and initiatives?
    1. General Comments and Feedback.  USAID/Bangladesh welcomes any general comments on the attached draft Concept Paper not already solicited under the other listed questions (this response may not exceed one (1) page in length).

DRAFT CONCEPT PAPER

1.          BACKGROUND

Context and Problem Statement

Despite significant economic progress achieved in the last two decades, pervasive corruption continues to be a key constraint to Bangladesh’s development and growth.  As noted in the U.S. Department of State’s 2020 Investment Climate Statements on Bangladesh, corruption is a primary obstacle to foreign investment in the country[1].  Similarly, the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report ranked Bangladesh the 36th least competitive country out of 141, in large part because of the country’s extremely low ranking on Incidence of Corruption (16th worst ranking of 141).[2]  Data on this is also evident across all main global corruption indices.  The World Justice Project’s 2020 Rule of Law Index ranks Bangladesh at the low score of 115/128 countries for rule of law, with sub rankings of 102/128 (a score of 0.36) for Control of Corruption, and 93/128 (a score of 0.43) for Open Government.[3]  In 2019, Bangladesh ranked 148 out of 180 countries in Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) with a score of 26/100 with 0 denoting the highest perception of corruption and 100 the lowest.  Bangladesh’s score on the 2019 Open Budget Survey remained similarly low, ranking 36 and 39/100 on budget transparency and oversight, respectively, and an abysmal 13/100 on public participation in the budget process.  The 2019 TRACE Bribery Risk Matrix, which measures bribery risks across 200 countries from high (100) to low (0), ranks Bangladesh as a high-risk country for bribery (72/100), with “Business Interactions with Government” scoring most poorly at 86/100, due to “a high degree of government interaction, a high expectation of bribes, and a high regulatory burden”.  Some research suggests that even minimal new efforts to reduce corruption would lead to Bangladesh increasing its annual GDP growth by 2-3% and attracting additional investment.

Unfortunately, these rankings only underscore the extent to which corrupt practices are deep-rooted, pervasive, socially accepted, and politically patronized in Bangladesh.  The fact remains that corruption, in many ways, is the way of “doing business” in Bangladesh, a reality that continues to significantly threaten not just economic growth, but the country’s development outcomes across all sectors.  In particular, and as made especially evident in the COVID-19 context, corruption continues to negatively impact the delivery of critical public services – including the ability of the country to respond to natural disasters.  Corruption also continues to diminish citizen trust in public institutions, and perpetuates a public sector culture of opacity, rent seeking, impunity, and lack of accountability.

As in most countries, these effects are felt the hardest by women, the disabled, poor, and other marginalized communities, who often pay an inordinate share of their income in bribes just to receive basic services.  The 2017 National Household Survey conducted by Transparency International Bangladesh (TI’B), for example, indicated that an average of 66.5 percent households experienced one or other forms of corruption to get services across key sectors, including justice services (60.5%), land services (44.9%), education (42.9%) and health (42.5%).  Corruption also especially preys upon the poor, impeding the human development of more than 20 percent of Bangladesh’s citizens that live below the poverty line.[4]  Critically, corruption and a lack of government accountability to citizens also weakens prospects for country self-reliance and the ability of the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) to meet its own objectives of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030.

The irony is that in many ways, Bangladesh has most of the required architecture in place to combat corruption and to provide oversight for the use of public funds, including laws and policies required to meet its obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).  Corruption is criminalized in the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Penal Code, and the Money Laundering Prevention Act.  Extortion, active and passive bribery, bribery of foreign public officials, money laundering and using public resources or confidential state information for private gain are all considered offences. In addition, more than eight legal frameworks[5] are in force to combat corruption in different sectors including rights to information.  On the institutional side, agencies, and policy initiatives such as the Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Integrity Strategy (NIS) and Plan of Actions, should hold great promise for the government’s ability to combat corruption. In addition to the NIS the government adopted several accountability tools including, a Citizens Charter, a Grievance Redress System, the Right to Information Act (RTI), and the Annual Performance Agreement.  The Prime Minister’s advocacy for zero-corruption tolerance, demonstrated in the GOB’s seventh five-year plan, vision 2021 and Prospect Plan 2010-2021, should provide policy and political cover for fighting corruption.  Yet, the entrenched and systemic nature of corruption in Bangladesh’s public sector, where informal processes and political relationships are prioritized over accountability to citizens, has made fighting corruption difficult.  Pervasive corruption within public institutions, the private sector, and even civil society across all sectors has in fact continued to weaken and erode these frameworks.

Within this context, Bangladesh’s weakened, and fragmented civil society sector has had limited ability to provide adequate oversight of government spending and actions.  The space for civil society and media to monitor and conduct oversight or increase public awareness and report about corruption has decreased significantly during the past two years.  Opportunities for CSO-government cooperation to improve public sector transparency and accountability have also diminished.  The passage of the Digital Security Act in 2018 and related crackdowns on civil society has led to media self-censorship and restricted the ability of civil-society organizations to hold the government accountable, reducing checks and balances on the government.

Despite these significant challenges, there are some promising initiatives that may signal opportunities to engage the GOB on ways to strengthen transparency and accountability to citizens.  In particular, recent GOB initiatives in the area of open data and the use of digitization to promote transparency and accountability in public service delivery provide potential windows for donor support.  As part of its Digital Bangladesh Vision of 2021, the GOB has made some significant investments to the establishment of e-governance services (under their Access to Information (A2i)[6] project), a digitized mechanism “that catalyzes citizen-friendly public service innovations, simplifying government and bringing it closer to people.”  A2i is one of several GOB initiatives aimed at reducing unnecessary steps for accessing services and therefore the chances of corruption.  Other opportunities exist to enhance ongoing initiatives aimed at preventing corruption and empowering citizens through open government.  Although Bangladesh has a long way to go into the implementation of e-governance, work on open data may provide an entry point to support government planning, budgeting, decision making and citizens participation in governance processes.  In particular, open data provide needed analytics and become an integral component in central or sectoral policy change.  Open data work could also support other good governance initiatives, such as e-based grievance redress systems, hotline numbers to lodge complaints, and other social accountability and citizen oversight mechanisms hosted by relevant ministries.  These initiatives need both support and sustained engagement by civil society, government institutions and relevant ministries to have a positive effect on people.

USAID Activities in Support of Good Governance

USAID is the principal U.S. Government (USG) bilateral agency providing development assistance worldwide.  On behalf of the American people, and in support of USG foreign policy, USAID leads international development and disaster assistance through partnerships and investments to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people emerge from humanitarian crises and progress towards self-reliance.  The USAID Mission in Bangladesh has the largest USAID development assistance program in Asia. USAID has been a development partner in Bangladesh since the country’s independence and has partnered with the GOB to curb corruption by advancing accountable and representational governance with political and civic leaders, the public sector, and citizens. 

The newly adopted USAID/Bangladesh Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) 2020 -2025 coalesces development impact through  good governance programming and private sector engagement.  According to CDCS good governance drives social and economic progress, USAID improves governance across sectors by improving citizens’ ability to hold elected and appointed officials accountable and strengthening the institutional capacity of government bodies to meet constituents’ needs.  The Development Objective 1 (DO 1), ‘Improved Democratic Systems that Promote Transparency, Accountability’ centers around the other DOs in its efforts to strengthen governance, inclusiveness, and resilience.  Specifically, addressing governance across all development sectors by improving the commitment of politically elected officials, establishing sound policies, and strengthening institutional capacity to effectively govern and meet the needs of their constituency; addressing inequality and promoting inclusiveness by building the capacity of social organizations, the private sector, and the citizenry to respond to the needs of the country; and promoting resilience among the people of Bangladesh to mitigate, adapt, and recover from shocks and stresses.

Good governance describes how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in

a manner that is transparent, accountable, efficient, participatory, inclusive, based on the rule of law and responsive to citizens.  Corruption (bribes, fraud, extortion, favoritism, nepotism) undermines good governance by abusing trusted authority for personal gain, corroding citizen trust and perpetuating inequalities. USAID understands the virulent effects of corruption on development outcomes and the way in which it hampers democracy, governance, and economic growth.  USAID also knows that corruption remains a key impediment to country self-reliance.  For these reasons, and as noted in Annex 1, since 2001 USAID has supported Bangladesh in meeting key national objectives around good governance and accountability through concrete DRG, Economic Growth (EG) and Population, Health and Nutrition programming. The EG activities  help bolster Bangladeshi economic growth by creating greater efficiency in cross-border trade and business enabling environment; increase Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) capacity in procurement, contract re-enforcement, and finance and audit transparency. After the direct support form USAID, LGED has started e-procurement and e-tendering to bring transparency and participatory public services. USAID efforts in health sector include policy reform, health system strengthening, quality health care and health financing.  

Development Partner Programming

There are a multitude of donors in Bangladesh providing development assistance in governance and across numerous sectors that touch on good governance and accountability.  Below is a brief description of key donor programming.  USAID is committed to continue ensuring strong donor coordination, cooperation, and complementarity of efforts within the scope of any future activity.

  • UNDP Bangladesh integrates anti-corruption activities through its programmatic approaches including indirect interventions.  Transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption focuses are embedded in local governance activities for more than a decade that helped sharing Upazila and district councils.  The Efficient and Accountable Local Governance (EALG) project is aimed at broadening local participation and partnership. UNDP interventions include knowledge development in the areas of right to information, knowledge for development management and inclusivity.
  • The World Bank’s (WB) The Governance Global Practice  (GGP) helps countries build institutions that are  capable, efficient, open, inclusive, and accountable.  In Bangladesh, WB’s implements around 40 projects in different areas including governance, digitization, public procurement, public resource management; and sectoral projects in the areas of agriculture, energy, education, and environment.  While economic governance is the focus area of its support to the Bangladesh government, WB also organizes accountability round tables where it brings in the voice of civil society for creating demand for transparency and accountability.
  • The Swedish International Development Corporation (SIDA) partners with Transparency International’ Bangladesh that reviews and promotes reforms at the national level, and grassroots mobilization at local level, for increased awareness of corruption and accountability for citizens.
  • The Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) engages local government units to be more accountable and efficient in education, agricultural extension, and health service delivery. The Efficient and Accountable Local Governance (EALG) supports Upazila council and union councils as well as local policy for effective local governance.  SDC also works to strengthen capacities of local government institutions and communities in efficient management of hygiene, sanitation, and water supply services for men, women, and disadvantaged persons.

In addition, the European Union, Transparency International’ Bangladesh, the Hunger Project, and local organizations/networks such as Center for Policy Dialogues, Citizens for Good Governance, and Manusher Jonno Foundation support work to advocate for good governance and transparency in government and independent watchdog institutions. 

2.          PURPOSE AND PROPOSED OBJECTIVES

The purpose of the proposed Advancing Open Governance and Accountability Activity (hereinafter referred to as the “Activity”) is to increase accountability and responsiveness to Bangladeshi citizens by enhancing the capacity of the GOB to ensure oversight, transparency, and openness in the use of public funds and delivery of public services, and by empowering citizens to participate and hold government to account.

Objective 1 – GOB capacity and commitment to provide oversight, transparency, and openness in the use of public funds and delivery of public services enhanced.

Under this Objective, USAID intends to enhance the use of and deepen internal GOB processes, controls and prevention mechanisms that provide oversight for the use of public resources and for the delivery of public services promulgated in selected institutions.  USAID also intends to strengthen the technical capacity of key public institutions to detect, investigate and respond to corruption.  Under this Objective, USAID seeks to bolster existing and to explore and expand new open government and citizen-centric initiatives and multi stakeholder partnerships to strengthen transparency and increase the participation of citizens in the use of public funds and delivery of public services. USAID plans to further explore the scalable opportunities in selected sector/s it works  including, but not limited to economic growth, health, disaster response and labor, to strengthen and standardize service delivery for responsive citizens and accountable and transparent service providers.

Objective 2 – Civil society, media and citizens empowered to hold the government to account and participate in governance through enhanced open government mechanisms and stronger partnerships that drive collective action and awareness.

Under this Objective, USAID intends to strengthen the capacity of civil society, media, and citizens to hold the government accountable by leveraging and expanding open government efforts that allow external participation, oversight, and monitoring. USAID will actively support and strengthen CSO coalitions, partnerships and networks that boost the technical capacity of civil society to engage in social accountability, enhance relationships, increase the resilience of the sector, and maximize collective action and impact.  USAID also seeks to increase CSO engagement in existing and new GOB open government, open data, and access to information processes, and increase the number of multi-stakeholder governance partnerships.  Under this Objective, USAID also aims to increase public awareness of open government, accountability, and civic participation norms in order to diversify voices and empower citizens.

3.         PROPOSED ACTIVITY

Theory of Change

IF GOB capacity and commitment to ensure oversight, transparency, and openness in the use of public funds and delivery of public services is enhanced AND IF civil society, media, and citizens are empowered to hold the government to account through participation in open governance mechanisms and stronger partnerships that drive enhanced collective action and awareness THEN the accountability and responsiveness to Bangladeshi citizens will increase.

Expected Outcomes

The high-level expected outcome for this Activity is a more open and transparent governance environment in Bangladesh that drives greater accountability and responsiveness to citizens.  The Activity will build upon previous and successful USAID efforts to advance accountability, transparency, anti-corruption, and good governance in Bangladesh, while also leveraging current GOB priorities in the areas of SDG implementation, digitalization, and attracting business and investment in order to find willing partners for change.

Under Objective 1, the Activity will seek to enhance GOB capacity to ensure oversight, transparency, and openness in the use of public funds and delivery of public services by working with key national level institutions.  Using a multi-sectoral approach, work under this objective will seek to improve the greater ecosystem for overseeing the use of public funds, including strengthening public financial management, prevention mechanisms and internal controls, and enhancing transparency and the use of open data (including open budget data) to allow greater public oversight.  Activities will also seek to leverage USAID’s past experience and partnership with the A2i Project to promote e-governance and digitization that aims to streamline government processes and improve transparency and accountability for public procurement and service delivery in critical sectors.  Under this objective, the Activity will also seek to strengthen the capacity of specialized institutions and watchdog agencies to detect and investigate corruption across different sectors but also to help them strengthen different ministries to address these issues internally.  This Activity will seek to expand e-governance approaches that foster greater collaboration, learning, and even competition between different agencies.  The Activity will also advance the use of open governance tools to promote effective governance, accountability, and responsiveness in management of public funds, including exploring ways of improving openness and transparency in the budget/fiscal space.  The Activity may explore providing support to the GOB in engaging in global governance platforms such as the Open Government Partnership.

Under Objective 2, the Activity will seek to empower citizens to hold the GOB to account by strengthening the capacity of civil society to engage in social accountability and open government mechanisms, and by fostering coalitions to drive collective action and improve impact.  Activities will seek to build and strengthen civil society relationships and networks that help build and leverage technical skills and amplify diverse citizen voices to become more effective in conducting oversight, monitoring, and advocating for needed policy changes.  The Objective will seek to build more diverse, inclusive, and resilient civil society networks, partnerships, and coalitions to strengthen the sector in playing a more constructive role in advocating for improving good governance, transparency, and accountability of the public sector.  Activities will also seek to enhance the technical ability of civil society to use open data and to engage in open government platforms and initiatives, such as social audits, open budget initiatives, open procurement, and e-procurement oversight.  The Activity will also seek to increase greater public awareness of ways to engage in social accountability and oversight of public spending and services.

ANNEX 1

SUMMARY OF USAID SUPPORT FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE IN BANGLADESH

USAID’s National Constituency for Strong Local Government (NCSLG) program (2001 and 2005) supported policy reform advocacy, information dissemination and networking among elected local government officials, and worked to strengthen transparency and accountability.  Major achievements included the establishment of the Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB) and the Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum (BUPF).  USAID’s Democratic Local Governance Program (DLGP) (2005 to 2008) continued support to MAB and BUPF with additional emphasis on quality service delivery, transparency, and accountability.  USAID’s Improving Local Governance by Strengthening Union Parishads and Creating Citizen Awareness (ILLG) program (2008 and 2011) promoted citizen participation and oversight at the local level through participatory planning, strengthening citizen monitoring and watchdog committees, and institutionalizing open public budget hearings.  The Strengthening Democratic Local Governance Program (SDLG) (2010 and 2014) expanded the roles and authorities of local governments, strengthened the capacity of local government associations, improved the service delivery and resource mobilization of local government units. and ensured accountability and transparency of local governments in finances and decision making.

Between 2007 and 2012, USAID’s Promoting Governance, Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity (PROGATI) program supported good governance in Bangladesh by providing training and technical assistance to public servants and elected officials to improve implementation of financial management systems at the national and local level.  PROGATI also assisted the GOB and civil-society organizations in developing a legal framework to promote access to reliable information.  The program supported the formation of the Journalism Training and Research Institute (JATRI) and the Parliament’s Budget Analysis and Monitoring Unit (BAMU), both of which are still operational.  USAID’s Access to Information (A2I) Activity (2012 – 2020), implemented in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office, supported increased citizen confidence in government and access to information by increasing transparency and accountability to improve services on the local level.  A2I created more than 5,000 “Digital Centers” enabling approximately five million Bangladeshis to access around 100 simplified, low-cost public and private services.

USAID’s Advancing Women’s Right of Access to Information in Bangladesh (AWRTI) (2016 and 2021) has been helping women in Bangladesh learn about their rights and ways to access information on education, health, and land-rights issues.  AWRTI works closely with select GOB ministries and with civil society in Dhaka, Khagrachari and Sylhet. The Activity also works in partnership with the Information Commission, Cabinet Division, and the Prime Minister’s International Affairs Advisor.

In the political processes, the Bangladesh Election Support Activities (BESA) Activity (2013 – 2016) worked on three components:  Campaign finance; Election observation and Reducing election-related violence. Promoting Democratic Institution and Practices (PRODIP) activity (2010 – 2015) co-funded by USAID and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), assisted the Bangladesh national parliament to improve its lawmaking and oversight capability, strengthened its standing committee structures and activities, increased the public awareness of its functions; and created opportunities for increased public input into the development of national policy.  Another activity, Democratic Participation and Reform in Bangladesh (DPR) (2011 – 2016), created regional Youth Leadership Centers and Woman’s Center to build capacity of the future political party leaders; sponsored local level projects to prepare women to contest for party nominations and elected offices; and enhanced the capacity of political parties to design and conduct research at the local level and to aggregate findings at the national level. Two additional USAID activities, the Strengthening Political Landscape Activity (SPL) (2017 – 2022) and the Promoting Advocacy and Rights Activity (PAR) (2018 – 2023) are both currently providing indirect anti-corruption interventions in two broad categories: (1) political party capacity and governance and (2) civil society and advocacy strengthening.  The interventions include strengthening the capacity of political party leaders and civil society to work with citizens and the government to make citizens’ voices heard and address governance issues.

[1] See https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-investment-climate-statements/bangladesh/

[2] See http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_TheGlobalCompetitivenessReport2019.pdf

[3] See https://worldjusticeproject.org/rule-of-law-index/country/2020/Bangladesh/

[4] As noted by the World Bank Group, corruption is a major challenge to ending extreme poverty by 2030 and fostering shared prosperity for the poorest 40 percent of people in developing countries. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/governance/brief/anti-corruption

[5] The Code of Criminal Procedure, the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Penal Code, the Money Laundering Prevention Act, 2012, Public Procurement Act, The Anti-Corruption Commission Act, Right to Information Act,2009; Human Rights Commission Act,2009; Public-interest Information Disclosure Act (Provide Protection), 2011.

[6] See https://a2i.gov.bd/