New data from the Sunshine Review suggests that the Internet is helping increase transparency in government. Just four years ago, in 2010, only 41 public organizations out of over 5,000 which were part of a study received an A grade in terms of web transparency. Today, 214 government websites can say they have an A grade. The grade is reserved for websites which meet at least 9 out of 10 requirements on a transparency checklist. Kristin McMurray, Managing Editor for the Sunshine Review, had this to say:
“We’ve seen a definite increase in disclosing financial data … It’s definitely a growing trend to be transparent.”
The checklist, though it varies depending on what the agency is, has these common requirements:
- Current and historic budget information
- Public meeting announcements
- Past meeting minutes
- Readily available public records request instructions
- Contact information including email addresses and voting records
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group reported that there is in fact a movement to increase openness in government online. The increase in transparency in recent years has been so great that the Sunshine Review is considering making its transparency checklist even more strict.
What do you think should be on a checklist to determine whether an agency is transparent online?