This Week in Transparency: GISWatch 2012 Report

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Global Information Society Watch has published the full version of their 2012 report on the Internet and corruption which includes dozens of country reports that feature, for example, Para onde foi o meu dinheiro? & Cuidadano do meu Bairro in Brazil, and Todos Somos Dateros and Promesometro in Peru.

David Eaves reflects on when civic participation is a necessary ingredient for transparency to bring about greater government accountability. Citing a recent IBM report on the effects of Recovery.gov, Eaves observes:

I’m surprised there was no Tea Party-led effort to use the data from Recovery.gov to track down every mis-spent or poorly allocated dollar. But my experience is that attracting people to look at information requires there either be a problem to solve or a strong narrative.

In other words, civic participation isn’t necessary so long as there is fear of civic participation. Eaves then cites a 2008 study from Brazil which found that municipal mayors that were identified as corrupt in a federal audit program were less likely to be re-elected than mayors that were not found to be corrupt. Furthermore, the “audits did not just punish the corrupt — they also rewarded the virtuous. Politicians that were believed to be corrupt but then cleared by the audit performed well in polls.” Eaves concludes that, in this case, civic participation is key in order for transparency to have its desired effect. As I warn in a comment, however, we must also take into account a 2009 study in Mexico which found lower voter turnout when there is greater disclosure of government corruption. We can’t yet assume that all citizens and all cultures will respond to disclosure of government corruption in the same way. On a related note, Tiago Peixoto has an excellent forthcoming paper that examines the role of civic participation in bringing about greater accountability with transparency.

Also at WeGov, Elena Casas-Montanez profiles the Uruguayan FOI portal ¿Que Sabés?, which uses the same software as WhatDoTheyKnow in the UK and TuDerechoaSaber in Spain. Since launching late last year, the Uruguayan portal has received 176 requests of which 25 have been completely answered by the 20-day deadline stipulated by the FOI law, which was implemented in 2008. In a big win for the website, this week Uruguay’s Access to Information regulator passed a resolution stipulating that government bodies must respond to FOI requests via email.

Tim Bonnemann has published a 2013 calendar of events “covering the areas of public participation, dialogue and deliberation, open government and the like, specifically as they relate to technology.”

Global Integrity’s Nathaniel Heller posted a thoughtful response to my post on philanthropy and investigative journalism.

My Upcoming Events

Papers I Plan on Reading This Week

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the mention!

    Hope to catch up when you’re in the Bay Area (I get back from SXSW on March 13).

    Reply

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