Since my guest post on the importance of transparency is no longer a live link, I'm re-publishing my blog post here:
The Key to Integrity
The major source of citizens’ dissatisfaction with political systems is the belief that politicians lack integrity. Integrity is fostered by a system that employs transparency, which is a requirement for accountability.
A Tool for Democratization
Transparency is a simple concept with a big payback: winning back the trust of the citizens and putting an end to corruption and special interests. The public distrusts leaders and policy makers, and the only way to increase trust in the system is by being open about what is taking place -- in order to have true accountability there must be transparency. As future and current leaders, (and supporters of leaders,) we must do what we can to move towards an open and accountable government.
Where We Stand
Transparency advocates have been demanding transparency for many years, but in 2008, on his first day in office, President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government mandating a policy of openness for Federal departments and agencies.
The Obama administration's policy of openness set the stage for states and numerous municipalities to follow suit. Happily, there are too many examples to list here, but in 2009 California's former Governor Schwarzenegger issued a memorandum of transparency, and San Francisco has had a Sunshine Ordinance since 1999.
Four Steps You Can Take Toward a More Transparent and Open Government
1. Most importantly, as you go forth to take office in your communities, states, and country, strive to serve in a transparent and open manner. When you are confronted with a decision, ask yourself whether you would be comfortable being open about your choice. If the answer is no, think long and hard about whether it's the right choice. If you are transparent, your opponents may disagree with your choices, but they won't be able to catch you off-guard by bringing up something you hoped they wouldn't find.
2. You can demand transparency and openness from the candidates you support, your elected officials and our party leaders.
3. Please join me and over 8,000 others in signing the online pledge to hold public officials accountable for being open and transparent at Public = Online, a non-partisan project of the Sunlight Foundation.
4. Lastly, you can support or establish a sunshine ordinance in your county, city or state.
The Sunlight Foundation is a great place to start for Federal transparency information. They always have interesting projects in the works. The Obama Administration's home page for federal transparency efforts also has good information. AnalyzeThe.US is an application with datasets that allows anyone to analyze information on key individuals, organizations and activities. Transparency International - USA Chapter