Transparency in government

Posted: October 17th, 2013

Transparency in government




Transparency in government

            Transparency in government refers to a governing doctrine that is based on the right of citizens to access and oversee government activities in order to allow effective public oversight. The origin of this concept can be traced back to the period of European enlightenment that led to the democratized society. Transparency is important for any government. However, the approach also presents some challenges and areas of national conflict. The level of transparency in the United States has been questionable. However, transparency is the next step in the efficiency of the United Sates government.

It is widely viewed that transparency is a key hallmark of the contemporary democratic practice. According to Waide, the strongest advocates of this system are mainly the non-governmental organizations. These groups are concentrated on countering the inherent tendency of national government to lapse on various occasions into secrecy (Waide, 2009). Some of these bodies include Open Society Institute and Transparency International. They argue that transparency is vital for development in the economic and political aspects. The role of civil society is also instrumental in the development of government transparency.

Transparency in government supports the overall concept of democracy. This is with respect to public participation, government accountability and respect of human rights and freedom. The American system is diverting of from an exclusive government to an inclusive one. Key national players are considered in the basic government processes. These include the non-governmental organizations, civil society, businesses and investors, minority groups and the citizens. The transparency approach has therefore improved political procedures such as elections, public debate, government agencies, opposition and the law making process (Jillson, 2011). However, it has also had some negative impact on excessive democratic tendencies that limit government effectiveness.

Government transparency in the USA offers numerous opportunities for growth socially, economically and politically. Transparency ensures accountability by government. Making information publicly accessible creates a system of checks and balances on the government. Transparency in government spending and transactions ensures that corruption is curtailed while boosting administration fiscal responsibility. Therefore, information that is maintained by Federal Government is a national asset. Executive departments and agencies are also made accountable through transparent approaches. The bureaucratic processes are also undertaken corruption free to maintain integrity.

The public oversee the law and judicial processes for corrupt government officials ultimately ensuring integrity. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) 2009 created the Recovery Board. This board is tasked with the role of promoting transparency in use of the $787 billion stimulus money. In addition, the board was to ensure that government is accountable in the spending of the package. The aim of the stimulus money is to fund employment and stimulate the US economy. Through the board, government is being held accountable. This is done through portraying to the public is understandable language how the money is spent, engaging and coordinating activities with the citizens and the indication of total number of jobs funded.

Government transparency boosts public confidence in the state. When government is held accountable for various undertakings, public confidence is fostered. Public confidence is important for any government. In America, the public confidence has been on the decline in the last twenty years. The 2009 credit crisis is one of the contributors of the reduced confidence. When government does not fulfill citizen expectations, the people lose their trust in government capability. Poor government performance also leads to a negative attitude by the public. However, ensuring transparency boosts their faith in the capability of government to perform. Performance is mainly focused on the ability of government to address a wide range of policy and economic related issues. Therefore, integrity in these areas ensures public trust.

Transparency also encourages public participation. Public participation is a political principle and practice for any form of government. Public participation facilitates the inclusion and involvement of citizens and their interest in their decision. Therefore, the citizens are engaged in the decision making process. Public contribution therefore influences the final decision of government. This is a vital element of democratic governance. Through transparent processes, the government is able to incorporate extensive public participation. This plays a key role in economic, social and human development.

Berinsky states that public participation is a tool that is intended to inform of organizing, planning and funding of government activities. It also allows for the measurement and establishment of attainable objectives, impact assessment and identification of lessons that will be essential for future development (Berinsky, 2004). The American system allows for public participation in rulemaking. Proposed rules are subjected to public comment for a particular period. Public participation is made mandatory for the rules that are promulgated by the executive agencies in the USA government. Public hearings are also undertaken during these periods. This ensures the input of the public in the final set of laws.

For instance, Americans are given the opportunity to interact with various government agencies and assess their performance. This method of participation makes government compliant to the standards of integrity. Citizens interact with government officials to influence their decisions in the budgetary process. The government should also solicit public information and input on the measures that can be undertaken in order to improve and increase the prospects of public participation in governance. However, the government must take a more transparent approach in order to reap from the benefits of public participation.

Transparency is significant in public-government collaboration. This is in relation to agency collaboration, public-private sector collaboration and citizen collaboration. Piotrowski cites that transparency in government provides government the opportunity to work with key national and developmental players. This collaboration helps to keep government accountable because of the risks involved (Piotrowski, 2007). It also enhances government accountability. Collaboration allows Americans and other agencies to engage actively in government activities. Executive government departments should therefore use innovative methods and tools in order to cooperate across all government levels, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and the public.

Transparency helps to establish and maintain investments within a country. Transparent government policies provide investors with a suitable environment for investment. Policies that allow investor participation are also essential for a transparent government. Some of the major areas that should be transparent in order to boost investment include the judiciary, economic policies, government agencies and human freedom. The USA government has instituted transparent approach in the economic policies in order to attract both local and international investment. The level of national investment has been increasing over time because of collaboration between the government and investors. Some of the areas the government has improved are bank investment programs, the auto industry, credit market programs and the provision of crucial investment information. However, the government must use new and transparent approaches to attract more investment.

According to Dionne, transparency also allows for the harmonization of human freedom and strengthens the civil society. Civil society plays a crucial role in articulating the grievances of the citizens and minorities. Through transparency, the role of the civil is not undermined. Lack of government transparency reduces the vibrancy of the civil society. Civil societies promote the essence of democracy that allows equality and freedom (Dionne, 2000). Civil societies allow the public to express their views and opinions on crucial issues affecting the state. It therefore allows the government to collaborate with them in order to formulate policies and laws. For instance the civil society has been an active player in forging for the rights of minorities in relation to race, ethnicity, sex and other marginalized groups.

According to Jillson, transparency in government also has negative implications. The process of engaging the public in all steps of the law making process can be long and tedious (Jillson, 2011). The government may spend a considerable amount of time engaging the public in law making. This procedure may have high costs and might reduce the value of the law in general. Democracy is essential for political development. However, transparency can lead to and exaggerated political system. This is usually expressed through the civil society. Their role of highlighting social injustices and empowerment is critical. However, sometimes they might forward some impractical and inapplicable grievances. These grievances might ultimately affect the general population. In addition, in America, not every individual’s grievances and needs can be met. Therefore, the consensus drives the system.

In conclusion, transparency is a significant aspect of a democratized society. America has taken bold steps to improve the level of transparency. The provision of government information has instituted, informed, and engaged public. New trends in transparency are also making government incorporate information technology in order to ensure the public are aware of its operations. However, the new frontier for the government to improve the economic and political scene lies in ensuring transparency.




















Work cited

Berinsky, A. J. (2004). Silent voices: Public opinion and political participation in America… Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

This book takes an in-depth look at public opinion and the impact it has on governance. There has been an increase in the use of public opinion polls. It also looks into public opinion polls and their role in influencing American politics

Dionne, E. J. (2000). Community works: The revival of civil society in America. Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution Press.

This book is a collection of essays that explores the quest for the voicing of the civil society. The essays indicate the level of governance in relation to the civil society. It therefore highlights the underlying notion and concept of the civil society in governance.

Jillson, Cal. (2011). American Government. Routledge.

This book looks into the foundation of the American government and the development of transparent governance in response to change. The American system is a complex system of government. It also shows how the American political system works.

Piotrowski, S. J. (2007). Governmental transparency in the path of administrative reform. Albany: State University of New York Press.

The process of reforming the American political system and transparency has been a remarkable one. This book looks into the impact and progress of the reform process. It also projects the future of America under the reform process.

Waide, W. (2009). American Governance. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. American governance system has proven to be a model for other governments in the global scene. This book analyzes the governance system and transparency in Administration. It also looks at the various government agencies and their level of transparency.

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