Last updated: February 10, 2022

Government Transparency

Government entities have a responsibility to foster maximum transparency and honesty when communicating with citizens about various procedures, services, laws, practices, and other pertinent aspects.
Posted by GovOS Team
Government Transparency

While too much transparency can lead to security breaches, people finding loopholes to get around laws and regulations, or distrust in the agency, not enough transparency can make it hard for citizens to put their trust in governments. A lack of transparency can also make it seem as if the government is hiding something.  

What makes things even more complicated is the fact that no one answer solves the issue of how to improve transparency in government that balances both clarity and security. But before diving into the various strategies for how to improve transparency in government, we first need to define what government transparency is and what makes it so important.  

What is Government Transparency?

Government transparency pertains to the obligation of governments to be open, responsible, and honest in communicating with citizens. This involves providing clear information about the allocation of tax dollars, the laws in place, potential penalties for violations, and the overall functioning of government operations. 

Government transparency is typically broken up into three categories: 

  • Proactive discourse 
  • Public record requests 
  • Campaign finance disclosure 

Achieving this goal can take various forms, including proactively engaging in communication with citizens, organizing town hall meetings, ensuring easy accessibility to public meeting documents, seeking input from citizens, and providing accessible services via digital platforms. 

Frequently when attempting to figure out how to improve transparency in government, more of these channels of communication will be opened to citizens. Although the primary focus of government transparency is to make relevant information accessible to the public, it is equally important that the information is presented in an easily comprehensible manner. 

When addressing ways to enhance government transparency, officials must recognize that citizens may not possess the same understanding of intricate government processes. Consequently, transparent government communication should prioritize clarity, avoiding technical jargon, and utilizing layman’s terms. 

An integral aspect of government transparency involves enhancing accessibility for citizens to actively participate in civic engagement and understand government procedures, thereby fostering more meaningful engagement with local authorities.  

What Makes Government Transparency Important?

Government transparency is crucial to maintaining a functioning and free society. Governments exist for many reasons but mainly to serve people, so information on how elected officials conduct themselves, conduct public business, and spend taxpayer money should be readily available and easily understood. Transparency allows citizens to hold governments accountable. Considering its importance, governments should always be working on how to improve transparency in government.  

How an Improved Records Management System Helps Local Government

Freedom-of-InformationIn addition to opening more lines of communication and making more information available to citizens, making records more easily accessible is another way to improve transparency in government. 

Thanks to the policies established by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), citizens can access a variety of information, but very few take advantage of this ability. Many citizens may not even know where to begin if they want to request information, or they may be frustrated with the current process and feel it’s too slow. 

Regardless, whatever may be deterring citizens from accessing information hurts transparency. The more easily accessible this information is, the better government transparency becomes.  

When trying to figure out how to improve transparency in government, governments should consider improving their records management system, even for information that doesn’t require a FOIA request to be released. Improved records management can make getting court documents, land deeds, and vital information just a few clicks away and make this process far more convenient for citizens.  

Digitizing this process makes it even easier. Rather than driving to city hall and filling out a slew of different forms, citizens can go online to access the information they need from anywhere.

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