Making Transparency Policies Work: The Critical Role of Trusted Intermediaries
15 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2014 Last revised: 11 Nov 2015
Date Written: October 5, 2014
Address to the International Seminar on Accountability and Corruption Control, Mexico City, 21 October 2014. Over the last twenty years we have learned that transparency can be used to improve governmental accountability and performance in many ways. We have also become much better at understanding the political, bureaucratic and social factors that influence the adoption and successful implementation of transparency policies. But we have also witnessed the emergence of powerful trends -- such as economic globalization, the growth of terrorism, and a backlash against the democratic surge of the late twentieth century -- that have encouraged stronger resistance to transparency policies. And old approaches to transparency may not work well in a world in which governments and businesses are harvesting vast amounts of digitized information about citizens and customers. For all of these reasons, citizens need friends -- by which I mean organizations that are prepared to resist the rollback of transparency policies, and also explain precisely what governments and businesses are doing with the information they collect. But will there be a ready supply of organizations to play the role of trusted intermediary? This is the crucial question.
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