Economic Freedom Audit Grant
Atlas works uniquely to strengthen the freedom movement by providing training opportunities for think tank leaders, awarding grants to institutes where Atlas sees great potential and to reward excellence, offering networking opportunities so that leaders can leverage shared knowledge and resources, and undertaking special projects that directly ensure that alternative ideas are heard and available.
The Atlas Network is excited to collaborate with the Fraser Institute and provide funding for Economic Freedom Audits to Atlas Network partners all around the world.
The Economic Freedom Index, with its five areas composed of three and a half dozen variables, not only provides the most comprehensive policy description of a nation available, but the information also creates a prescription for reform—showing where a country is weak and strong, how its regional competitors are doing, and where best practices can be found.
In the most recent edition of the University of Pennsylvania’s Global Go To Think Tanks Report, Economic Freedom of the World was ranked as the fifth most influential report published by the world’s 6,618 think tanks. Nobel Laureate Douglass North has called it the “best available … description of efficient markets.”
Economic Freedom Audits effectively convey the advantages of economic freedom and free markets to policy reformers and are a powerful media tool to communicate to the public. They are designed to develop practical policy reform ideas, create local ownership, and deliver these ideas to government and the people of the nation. They enable participants and the public to see how their nation does against the regional, world, and top 10 averages in economic freedom in 42 dimensions, and provide world-class policy examples for improvement.
The audits provide ample opportunity for communication to the public through the media: pre-audit news releases and interviews; coverage at the audit, typically including television; a post audit press release and interviews; and then, with the preparation of the final report, its presentation to the public and government.
Audits have been undertaken in Oman, Panama, Jordan, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tunisia, Malaysia, Lebanon, and Nepal. For a recent example of a successful audit please refer to the 2015 Economic Freedom Audit of Nepal conducted by Atlas partner Samriddhi and its final publication.
The grant amount will be $15,000 which should include the responsibilities listed below for the partner organization as well as the cost of travel and accommodation for a Fraser Institute representative to participate in the Economic Freedom Audit main event.
Here is a short description of the process but once a group is selected to receive a grant you will be coordinating all of your efforts with a representative from the Fraser Institute and discuss some of these topics in more detail.
For each audit, the Fraser Institute prepares a booklet analyzing a nation’s economic freedom. This is based on a set of matrixes with the nation’s level of economic freedom for each of the 42 variables in the economic freedom index.
Matrixes are prepared for each of the five areas of economic freedom—size of government, rule of law and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade, and regulation, with the regulation matrix usually broken down into its three component areas: regulation of credit, labor, and business.
The matrixes also show the scores of the top 10 nations for each variable, the top 10 average, the regional average and the world average. Thus participants can judge how their nation is doing for each policy variable, how it compares to its neighbors and the world, what improvements are needed, and where to seek best practices where improvements are needed.
Commentary is included in the booklet on effects of economic freedom on a number of positive outcomes and on the policy of the nation in question. The partner think tank in the nation is invited to add local commentary.
The audits are spearheaded by a local free market think tank and involve Fraser and typically one or more international partners.
Usually about 100 people participate in the audit, including top members of the media, business, government, and academic communities. They also provide a great vehicle to attract journalists and develop a high profile in the media.
Two different organizational structures are possible for the audit.
Option 1: One day audit
The audit begins with an introductory session for the full group on the analysis and benefits of economic freedom. Then, the group breaks into separate workshops on each area of economic freedom—size of government, rule of law and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade, and business, labor and credit regulation (each regulation area is usually considered by separate groups)—to determine ways to improve economic freedom in those areas.
The workshops should have top people in each area. For instance, the workshop on the rule of law should include lawyers, officials from the justice department, retired judges, business people, and legal journalists. Such people will have the information necessary, especially when complimented by the international comparisons provided, to understand the weaknesses and strengths of their judicial systems and where and how reforms could be implemented.
And, it is worth repeating, by involving those at top levels in such a discussion a sense of ownership of reform is created. Participants are in a position to monitor the progress of reform and spur it on. The process creates accountability.
As well, most of those involved will never have experienced such a critical and directed conversation with their peers about their nation’s policy. The process will bring participants face-to-face with their nation’s international performance compared to their neighbors, the world, and the top performers. It will engage them in a purposeful dialogue on possible, practical, and effective reform.
Each workshop has a moderator and secretary to report back to the final session on its recommendations.
An attractive alternate approach has recently been developed by our partners in Nepal, Samriddhi, the Prosperity Foundation. Instead of one large meeting with breakout sessions, a smaller venue is found for a series of individual consecutive meetings over the course of two or three days.
This means the local partner does not have to simultaneously staff five to eight breakout sessions but can have its top people in each session. And it means the writers of the final report and policy recommendations will have participated in each session.
Final report preparation
From the recommendations developed in the separate workshops and through ongoing consultations, a report analyzing the nation’s policy situation and presenting recommendations is prepared and circulated to the participants for comments.
When finalized, it is presented to the government, creating a second opportunity for media attention.
Ideally, a follow up session is held about a year later to examine what reforms have been made and what still needs to be done.
Key benefits are reinforcing ownership of reform amongst members of the elite attending the workshop and, through the media, increasing public awareness of what economic freedom actually is and how it differs from the crony capitalism too many regimes have paraded as reform.
If you have any questions about this grant opportunity, please email Elisa.Bishop@AtlasNetwork.org.