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30 January 2012 3:10 PM

Transparency writ large

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is giving a speech in Washington (USA, rather than Wearside) today on open data and transparency.

Leave aside for a minute the fact that Government data dumps have an uncanny knack of arriving late in the day and spread across several websites, the speech contained a couple of lines that caught my eye.

In a list of examples of different government approaches around the world, Maude said: "In Liberia the struggle to publish government contracts with the forestry industry prompted mafia reprisals.

"In some parts of India where internet access is not available officials paint spreadsheets of welfare payments on village walls so local people can judge if the claimants are real or fraudulent.
 
"Brazil now requires officials to post expenses within 24 hours to reduce corruption and improving public confidence in government. And as a result President Dilma dismissed six ministers in 2011 linked to corruption scandals.
 
"Governments are finding transparency risky, difficult and uncomfortable. But transparency sticks – it’s irreversible once you start. And I believe transparency will become the defining characteristic of future public policy."

I love the idea of officials daubing roadsides with spreadsheets. Perhaps when the Budget comes round on March 23, Treasury civil servants should paint Red Book figures on the side of an iconic building.

Craig Woodhouse
Follow me on Twitter @craigawoodhouse

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Hotels Buxton

In a list of examples of different government approaches around the world, Maude said: "In Liberia the struggle to publish government contracts with the forestry industry prompted mafia reprisals.

David

Worth a thought for the future http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/19654

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