Government hides inefficiency, waste and failures behind a wall of silence. It is illegal for a company to withhold information from its shareholders, but our senior civil servants and politicians believe it is fine to keep as much as possible from its citizens. We have one of the most opaque governments in any first world democracy, and have a high level of government failure. These are related.
Would government send people off on junkets, in first class travel to get expensive beauty treatments at the public expense, if the receipts were published three months later? Would our health service be allowed to continue to grow its bureaucracy if we could see it laid bare? Would ministers get away with wasteful spending if the good advice they ignored was published?
Old Politics Failure
It suits politicians and senior civil servants to keep hidden what might embarrass them. Politicians have colluded to bury information and have not, despite promises, moved quickly to open government up to the people. They allow intentional obstruction and a culture of secrecy to exist at the expense of the people.
There is a culture of secrecy and requests for freedom of information are often met with obstruction. Individuals seeking the truth about politicians expenses are told it will cost several thousand euro to process. In the end it costs less than €100, the original quote being an attempt to scare away inquiry. This is our money. This is our government. This is our information.
Aaron’s plan is for ‘99% Transparency’, to make government publish almost everything about what it does within months of doing it. Government will no longer be able to hide its inefficiencies behind a wall of silence and the people will be able to hold it to account when its failings are laid bare. The first step to ending waste and mismanagement is to make it public, so those responsible can be held accountable.
- Build transparency into the way government works by adopting computer systems to automatically categorise and publish all data within months
- Release data regularly in a well organised format that is easy to access and investigate
- Have an opt-out system for sensitive data, the ‘1%’, such as private individual information or strictly confidential dealings with third parties
- Expand the role of the Information Commissioner to ensure full transparency is adhered to