Measuring Transparency

This improtant panel will examine how best to measure transparency with a focus on measuring whether information is really and truly available in practice, be it through access to information (FOI) laws or proactive publication (open data).

Organisers: The session is organised by Access Info Europe, the Carter Center and the Centre for Law and Democracy together with the FOI Advocates Network, Alianza Regional (Latin American freedom of information network), and the African Freedom of Information Centre.

Rationale: More sophisticated measurement of current levels of transparency (in law and practice), as well of progress in advancing it, is essential for the OGP.

Such measurements are also valuable for various international initiatives, including the the UN Convention against Corruption and SDG 16.10.2.

Having accurate data on the quality of the legal framework for access to information as well as how accessible information is in practice, is essential for civil society to refine their strategies and hence improve impact.

Furthermore, measuring how well governments are equipped to implement transparency policies will permits better policy decisions and prioritisation in the allocation of resources (both generally and specifically in OGP action plans).

Outcome: The outcome of this round table will be **a clear agenda for the right to information and open data movements **to pursue in order to improve measurement of transparency in law and practice. The action agenda will take into account both practical challenges as well as the costs of various measurement methodologies.

Participants: This will be a moderated interactive debate with leading experts Participants will be encouraged to ask questions.

Moderation: Helen Darbishire Discussants: - Laura Neuman, Carter Centre - Fackson Banda / Marius Lukosiunas, UNESCO - Carlos Iglesias, World Wide Web Foundation - Ernesto Bellisario, OGP Italy - Caroline Giraud, GFMD - Alejandro Ponce, World Justice Project - Robin Hodess, Transparency International - Esther Arizmendi, Transparency Council, Spain

Context: The global transaprency community needs accurate measure of levels of government openness in law and in practice. Now that SDG 16.10.2 on access to information has been adopted, UNESCO will be responsible for such measurement. Other bodies such as World Bank need data, and its needed for monitoring international treaties such as the UN Convention against Corruption.

What measuring tools do we have and how good are they?

  • The RTI Rating (Access Info Europe and Centre for Law and Democracy with experts globally) measures the quality of FOI laws.
  • Implementation efforts are measured by the Carter Center’s Implementation Assessment Tool
  • The open data barometer assesses open data.
  • The World Justice Project carries out opnion surveys.
  • CSOs test transparency at the local level.

But there exists no global measure of transparency in practice. We cannot answer the question: is the information actually available to the public? That said, comparative data has been collected under monitoring exercises by RTI groups, and the Open Data community has developed measures such as the Open Data barometer; hence tried and tested methodologies do exist For civil society groups promoting a range of initiatives (decision-making transparency, open contracting, open spending, extractive industry transparency, aid transparency, and so forth) having reliable comparative evaluations is essential, not only within each field but across them.

Also important to understanding how transparency works in practice is the collection of data on the preparedness of institutions to implement access to information regimes and open data policies. Factors such as clear internal decision-making systems, staff and training, record keeping rules, IT systems and information management, all play a role and being able to evaluate these deepens our understanding of progress made as well as guiding action on how to improve transparency.

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