MCC Builds on Lessons Learned in Launch of Second Open Data Challenge

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)’s first open data challenge taught MCC some very valuable lessons in making its public data truly usable by the public. The challenges ask masters and PhD students to find creative ways to use MCC’s publicly-available evaluation data and provide new insights into its evaluation results. As the second challenge launches, MCC is building on these lessons learned from the first challenge:

  • Students are a prime audience for an open data challenge. They bring fresh eyes and an eagerness to engage with free, public data.
  • For open data to be most useful, MCC, independent evaluators, and MCC country partners need to consider the ultimate users of the data early in the process. What information does the public need to use the data well?
  • There may be a trade-off between protecting the identity of respondents and fostering the usability of evaluation data. How do we make open data most usable by the public while still protecting respondents?
  • Communication between evaluators and students who seek to use the data can increase the quality of open data analysis. How can MCC best support collaboration between evaluators and students in a way that fosters productive debate?

The Challenge was created as a way to gain insight into MCC’s evaluation results and the efficacy of its programs to improve its work. The Challenge is a part of MCC’s commitment to encourage the use of its data as a global public good that can drive development effectiveness beyond the agency. Read more about MCC’s efforts to create and use open data, including through an upcoming competition in Côte d’Ivoire, one of its partner countries.

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Open Data Challenge logo.

The Open Data Challenge 2.0 is looking for up-to 7,000 word papers that find analysis of data available on the MCC Evaluation Catalog, in any of the following topics:

  • Analysis that supports or challenges assumptions made in ex-ante economic rate of return estimates (all ERRs are available on the MCC public website)
  • Analysis that supports or challenges results of independent evaluations (all final evaluation reports are published on the MCC Evaluation Catalog)
  • Deeper dive analysis beyond the analysis presented in independent evaluator reports
  • Policy relevant analysis, particularly on topics related to MCC priorities, such as gender and poverty-related analysis

The competition abstracts are due in May 2016, final papers in January 2017 and awards will be presented in May 2017. You can read more about the announcement and instructions on how to submit.

Elizabeth Zeitler is a Transportation Advisor and Open Data advocate at the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Division of Monitoring and Evaluation. She works to increase information access, use and learning for partner countries and for MCC as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow.