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Tag Archive: Transparency Case Study Initiative

OpenGov Conversations: Tiago Peixoto on Open Data and Citizen Engagement – Disentangling the Relationship

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This post is part of our series, OpenGov Conversations, an ongoing discourse featuring contributions from transparency and accountability researchers and practitioners around the world.

This post responds to the following question: What is the role of citizen engagement in the ability of transparency policies and initiatives to hold governments accountable?

As asserted by Jeremy Bentham nearly two centuries ago, “[I]n the same proportion as it is desirable for the governed to know the conduct of their governors, is it also important for the governors to know the real wishes of the governed.” Although Bentham’s historical call may come across as obvious to some, it highlights one of the major shortcomings of the current open government movement: while a strong focus is given to mechanisms to let the governed know the conduct of their governors (i.e. transparency), less attention is given to the means by which the governed can express their wishes (i.e. citizen engagement).

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OpenGov Conversations: Aaron Azelton on Citizen Engagement

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This post is part of our series, OpenGov Conversations, an ongoing discourse featuring contributions from transparency and accountability researchers and practitioners around the world.

This post responds to the following question: What is the role of citizen engagement in the ability of transparency policies and initiatives to hold governments accountable?

As much as I would like to offer a simple definitive answer to the question, I have to say instead that it depends; particularly when democratic institutions and processes are being established and corresponding norms, values and practices are evolving. This view is based on 20 years working at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to increase organized citizen engagement, as a means of deepening democracy so that governments deliver a better quality of life for citizens. This work has provided a number of lessons regarding the relationship between citizen engagement, transparency and government accountability.

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OpenGov Conversations: Lee Drutman on Three Types of Accountability

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This post is part of our series, OpenGov Conversations, an ongoing discourse featuring contributions from transparency and accountability researchers and practitioners around the world.

This post responds to the following question: What is the role of citizen engagement in the ability of transparency policies and initiatives to hold governments accountable?

Unlike the others in this series who have been working on the ground to implement transparency policies and initiatives, I have not. My background is in political science, so I’m going to do something that political scientists often do. I’m going to theorize and I’m going to offer a typology.

Though we tend to talk about accountability as if it is one thing, I think there are actually three types of government accountability that we care about: preference accountability, character accountability, and performance accountability. And each of these has its own relationship to citizen engagement. By better understanding this, we can better understand the citizen engagement – transparency – accountability nexus.

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OpenGov Conversations: Susannah Vila on Three Types of Citizen Engagement

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This post is part of our series, OpenGov Conversations, an ongoing discourse featuring contributions from transparency and accountability researchers and practitioners around the world.

This post responds to the following question: What is the role of citizen engagement in the ability of transparency policies and initiatives to hold governments accountable?

The term civic engagement can be defined in a variety of ways. For the purposes of this conversation let’s say it consists of someone’s involvement in matters of public concern. Let’s also say that citizen engagement refers specifically to the involvement of individuals as opposed to civil society organizations.

What are the different ways that citizens engage? How does the shape of their engagement influence the shape of any government accountability that might come from it? I’ve noticed a few different types of engagement - and each type appears to have different repercussions for accountability. Here are three:

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How Open Data Can Engage Civil Society and Improve Procurement Oversight

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With the release of our report on Philippine public procurement we are now two cases into our deep look at procurement transparency and open contracting. As we look at these cases some important themes about data accessibility have begun to emerge. As I said in our Philippines write up: “absent accessible data, whistleblowers and leaks are the only safeguard against corruption. When the data is not readily available, it can’t enable meaningful oversight.” To be truly accessible, simply posting information online is not enough. For transparency to actually lead to accountability, barriers to using the data must be low. Data should be open to the public without gates, published in open and machine-readable formats, and available in bulk. These are things that we have been longtime proponents of at the Sunlight Foundation, (see our Open Data Guidelines), and our case research so far confirms their importance.

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