Measuring Transparency

Transparency is seen as an important part of good governance. It is even one of the eight characteristics of good governance according to UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), defining transparency as following:
“Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media”.

Even though addressing open governments is a common goal for all transparency indicators, there exists no uniformly accepted list of indicators. The approaches are often from different perspectives such as political, economic, media, human rights or business and thus see transparency slightly different.

Following are some of the most well known methodologies/surveys on assessing transparency:

  • Sunshine Review: The Sunshine Review presents a list of checklist important for a transparent government. The survey is on web sites in the United States of America and aims at putting pressure on web site owners to become more transparent. Unfortunately, there is no justification of why the items are important.
  • eGEP (eGovernment Economics Project): The eGEP project has developed a framework to assess the impact of e-government services in three main areas: efficiency, democracy and effectiveness. Democracy is further divided into openness, transparency accountability and participation. The data sources include third party assessment, administrative records data, web metrics data and automatic web crawler software.
    It should be noted that a second version of eGep, eGEP 2.0, is under development.
  • Overheid.nl monitor: Overheid.nl assess Dutch web sites on six different areas including transparency to the public. The data is mostly collected manually.
  • BEGIX (Balanced E-Government Index): BEGIX is a self-assessment questionnaire for e-government and e-democracy. consisting oif in total 27 questions. Six of these questions are on transparency.
  • Norge.no: The Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Direktoratet for forvaltning og IKT, DIFI) assess public Norwegian web sites annually. The methodology consists of three parts, accessibility, usability and useful content. Useful content is highly related to transparency as they look at whether users can find basic information, if the web site provides feedback, etc.

This post is based on information from the State-of-the-art Review: transparency indicators originally prepared by Lasse Berntzen, Annika Nietzio, Morten Goodwin Olsen, Ahmed AbdelGawad, Mikael Snaprud

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