In recent years, a consensus has developed that institutional development is key to both faster economic development and policies that contribute to improved conditions for the poorest members of society. A result has been an increased emphasis by donors and development specialists on democratic processes, governance, transparency of public institutions, and anti-corruption policies. These efforts increase the "supply" of accountability mechanisms. More recently, there has been a realization that the domestic "demand" for accountability by voters and civil society entities (such as community groups, research institutes and independent media organizations) is at least as important.
On March 20, Brookings, the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and The International Budget Project sponsored a conference on improved governance with a focus on the role civil society organizations can play in analyzing and advocating for better policies, especially in the area of public expenditures. Francis Fukuyama, the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and director of the international development program at SAIS, gave a keynote address before the second panel in the afternoon.