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Blogpost l Learning why transparency matters: a new Sunlight Foundation research project

Posted date: 
Wed, 02/13/2013
Source of the information: 
Sunlight Foundation Blog

We at the Sunlight Foundation have a mission statement:     

"The Sunlight Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike. We are committed to improving access to government information by making it available online, indeed redefining “public” information as meaning “online,” and by creating new tools and websites to enable individuals and communities to better access that information and put it to use… "

Implicit in this statement, and in pretty much all of what we do at Sunlight, is an understanding that openness and transparency, enabled by technology, lead to more democratic accountability, and that, on balance, this leads to better goverrnance. It’s an understanding that we share with a growing global community. 

We have so far been fortunate that most people intuitively grasp the value of technology-driven openness and transparency, and as a result, an impressive range of NGOs and governments around the world are building on the basic understanding that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” (Justice Brandeis’ aphorism that gave the Sunlight Foundation its name). For example, as of this writing, 58 countries have signed onto the Open Government Partnership. 

But the quick-to-grasp nature of transparency’s potential has its dangers: 1) that we cease asking questions about it because it has become an article of faith; and 2) that, as strong advocates for the cause, we begin to oversell its potential (and thus undermine its genuine contributions) (...)