Transparency & Accountability Initiative Report: Opening Government

As part of the Open Government Partnership, Transparency & Accountability Initiative recently published a new report on current best practices and the practical steps for opening government. The report details the state of the art in transparency, accountability and citizen participation across 15 areas of governance, ranging from broad categories such as access to information, service delivery and budgeting to more specific sectors such as forestry, procurement and climate finance.

The report is downloadable as a pdf and embedded below.

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Profile Photo Mark Forman

I fear that all the good talk about Transparency in the Obama administration is being turned into a political charade. First, we find out that the data in the IT Dashboard has been filtered and that the real data in the closed door Techstat meetings tell a different story…data that the press got only through FOIA and with lots of redactions. That’s really bad given the IT Dashboard was created solely for the purpose of transparency and shaming agencies into fixing their IT projects according to the CIO. Second, the Debt reduction talks are not being done in any public manner, except post and pre-meeting news conferences for posturing. That’s really moving away from accountability and transparency towards political messaging. I’d vote for open government if it was on the ballot, but am very concerned that this is turning into a new way to do political messaging and posturing.

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Profile Photo Hal Zapken

The report and ideas of transparency is all the good for public perception, and catering towards members of Congress, but can it work. Will any agency of the government really want input. The common perception of the citizenry is that the government has grown too big, is not interested in the daily mundane lives of Americans, and especially with the manner in which the financial problems have assisted the banks and brokers, the public’s awareness’ may not be wrong. It was the public that hurt from the bailouts of the corporations. The indirect results are now being felt in unemployment, inflation, literally screwing the public worker, and I am sure a host of other descriptions.

When the agency is not interested in hearing about improvements from their own employees, what expectation can there be for the agency responding in like to suggestions from the public, whose knowledge of everyday workings is limited to what the agency had promulgated to begin with. What the public was fed will be the fodder for the transparency. With minimal information available, the transparency looks more like another public relations game rather than the true changes in government that could result.

The real transparency needs to be applied from the Congress, not so much from the Executive branches, but from the Legislative branch. This is where the majority of the funds are used improperly, and this is where the voters will have the major impact that can lead to changes benefiting the populace. This is also where corruption can be identified, where pork barrel spending is going, where tax money is literally wasted. I think that this is where the people want to see the government in action, and not merely to cater towards the congressional votes needed to pass certain legislation.

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