Transparency in Troubled Times
Tenth World Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute, November 2012
18 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2012 Last revised: 24 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 23, 2012
Presentation to the Tenth World Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute, Wellington, New Zealand. For delivery on 14 November 2012. Difficult economic times are often threatening to the idea of transparency. Financially troubled governments argue that openness is a luxury, not a necessity. And the political uncertainty that is generated by economic troubles sometimes makes governments hesitant about releasing sensitive information. But the reluctance to maintain transparency can have serious consequences. Secretiveness can undermine the legitimacy of governmental action and contribute to political instability. Indeed, the crisis itself can be regarded as the result of multiple failures of transparency in the private and public sectors. The temptation to view openness as a luxury must be resisted. It is precisely at the moment of economic crisis that the idea of transparency is most important.
Keywords: transparency, open government, access to information, freedom of information, right to information, economic crisis, fiscal crisis, austerity
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