Are Governments Complying with Transparency? Compiled Findings from 15 Years of Evaluation

Government Information Quarterly, February 2020

38 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

How well do governments comply with legal transparency obligations? Alarmingly, no good answers to this basic policy question exist because of patchy comparative data on transparency compliance. This study presents an initiative to address this gap. Analyzing an exhaustive compilation of 265 transparency evaluations (i.e. audits) authored by NGOs, academics, and governmental oversight authorities across Latin America between 2003 and 2018, we aggregate data on patterns of evaluation and public sector compliance with transparency obligations. Overall, data indicate modest increases in compliance over time. Most relevant for policymakers and scholars, however, are the gaps in evaluation efforts illustrated by the data. Evaluators tend to focus far more on active transparency (i.e. website-based disclosure) than passive transparency (i.e. governmental responses to citizen requests), more on national level governments than subnational governments, and preponderantly on the executive as opposed to legislative or judicial branches of government. Textual analyses show that education is the most evaluated policy theme, with financial policies and social services close behind. Finally, data reveal that governmental oversight agencies assign significantly higher compliance scores in evaluating subject agencies than non-governmental evaluators. In presenting the first large-scale cross-national assessment of transparency compliance, the current study brings to light trends in the effectiveness of transparency regimes across Latin America, as well as patterns and limitations of transparency evaluation.

Suggested Citation

Michener, Gregory, Are Governments Complying with Transparency? Compiled Findings from 15 Years of Evaluation (2020). Government Information Quarterly, February 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3784057 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3784057

Gregory Michener (Contact Author)

EBAPE/FGV ( email )

R. Dr. Neto de Araujo 320 cj 1307
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 22250-900
Brazil

HOME PAGE: http://ebape.fgv.br/

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