30 April 2009

Spreading Government Openness

For those of us that believe that openness is good for governments (and good for us), the question becomes: how can we encourage government at all levels to become more transparent? Requesting or demanding openness only goes so far, and can ultimately become depressing in the face of refusal. So what else can be done that's satisfying and effective?

How about this?

The mission of Sunshine Review is to create a place where regular people have the opportunity to breathe new life into the political system by demanding a transparent and honest government. Sunshine Review collects and shares information about government transparency, openness and accountability at the state and local level.

One of the ways it does that is by rating websites of local governments:

This page gathers the results of county website evaluations from all 50 states after all 3,140 counties in the country were evaluated by Sunshine Review contributors.

That's an extraordinary achievement, and indicates the scale and ambition of the project. The point being that the more publicity is given to shortfalls in sites - especially compared to their peers - the more likely laggards are to respond positively. Now, if we could only get this going over here....

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