Transparency, Corruption, and the Information Needs of Communities: The Case of Personal Financial Disclosure
34 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 5, 2016
This paper examines personal financial disclosure practices required for public officials across the 50 states and finds that more than 80 percent of states rate poorly when evaluated on a set of objective criteria. A “disclosure degree” score is calculated for each state; these scores are then brought together with a related set of measures to evaluate transparency more broadly for public officials in each state. Levels of public corruption in each state are also considered. For financial disclosure to be meaningful, we argue, three interconnected areas must be evaluated: First, the precision of the information required by law to be disclosed; second, the degree of openness and relevance of information toward the detection of conflicts of interest; third, the degree to which institutional monitors – prosecutors, news media, ethics commissions – can generate public knowledge.
Keywords: disclosure, ethics, corruption
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