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June 11, 2015

Gates Foundation Gets Great Press, but Skeptics Have Emerged

While the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gets far less mainstream-media scrutiny than giving by the conservative Koch brothers, numerous researchers and academics development experts have raised questions in academic papers about the governance, transparency, and spending priorities of the world's biggest philanthropy, news and analysis Web site Vox writes.

Critics note that while the $42.9 billion foundation wields outsize influence on global health issues, spending more on it than most countries, it is effectively accountable only to its three main trustees, the Gateses and Warren Buffett. They are also skeptical of the foundation's emphasis on data-driven, technological solutions to poverty and disease — for example, focusing on vaccine development rather than improving the health-care infrastructure in poor countries.

"There's a tendency to see the Gates Foundation as benevolent force. Unlike the Kochs, it's not [seen as trying] to further its own interest," said Linsey McGoey, a sociologist at the University of Essex in England. "But if you want to rein in the influence of large philanthropic funders like Koch, then you have to pay attention to the role of Gates."