Top 10 Measurements for Transparency

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Weekend before this most recent one, Government 2.0 Camp took place here in Washington and by all accounts it was a huge success. Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and Sunlight’s senior technology advisor, led a panel discussion about what the meaning of transparency is in the Obama administration. During the discussion, Andrew and the participants came up with “Top 10 Measurements for Transparency.” And it’s quite a comprehensive list.

Here’s a photo of the board they were taking notes on:

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Here’s a short video of Andrew quickly running through the measurements:


Ten Measures for Transparency Success from Gov 2.0 on Vimeo.

Here’s a quick outline of the 10 measurements:

1.    Open data: The federal government should make all data searchable, findable and accessible.
2.    Disclose spending data: The government should disclose how it is spending taxpayer dollars, who is spending it and how it’s being spent.
3.    Procurement data: How does the government decide where the money is getting spent, who gets it, how they are spending it and how can we measure success.
4.    Open portal for public request for information: There should be a central repository for all Freedom of Information Act requests that are public to that people can see in real time when the requests come in, how fast the government responds to them.
5.    Distributed data: The government should make sure it builds redundancy in their system so that data is not held in just one location, but held in multiple places in case of a disaster, terrorist attack or some other reason where the data is damaged. Redundancy would guarantee government could rebuild the data for future use.
6.    Open meetings: Government meetings should be open to the public so that citizens can tell who is trying to influence government. All schedules should be published as soon as they happen so that people can see who is meeting with whom and who is trying to influence whom.
7.    Open government research: Currently, when government conducts research, it usually does not report the data it collects until the project is finished. Government should report its research data while its being collected in beta form. This would be a measure of transparency and would change the relationship that people have to government research as it is being collected.
8.    Collection transparency: Government should disclose how it is collecting information, for whom are they collecting the data, and why is it relevant. The public should have the ability to judge whether or not it valuable to them, and giving them the ability to comment on it.
9.    Allowing the public to speak directly to the president: Recently, we saw the president participate in something called “Open for Questions,” where he gave the public access to ask questions. This allowed him to burst his bubble and be in touch with the American public directly is another measure of transparency.
10.    Searchable, crawl able and accessible data: If the government were to make all data searchable, crawl able and accessible we would go along way in realizing all the goals presented at the Gov 2.0 Camp.

I wanted to note all this for posterity. We’d love to hear you comments and thoughts about it.