If you’re wondering whether the concept of transparency in government has taken hold outside Washington, D.C., you have only to look at the Utah Transparency Project, the brainchild of twelve students in the Honors Think Tank on Transparency and Privacy at the University of Utah. This initiative to improve government transparency across the entire state is the result of their recent study of the rapidly evolving and often clashing paradigms of privacy and transparency, particularly as they impact government and people.
The students have developed Five Transparency Best Practices for Local Governments that will be distributed to all local governments with a request that officials adopt the Best Practices in principle and that they implement as soon as possible the practices they deem immediately feasible; governments should work toward implementing the remaining practices. The students will also be reviewing existing transparency practices in 16 Utah cities and counties.
Additionally, the Think Tank students are also conducting an independent, statewide survey to assess whether Utahans are interested in transparency in government. One group definitely is: The Utah League of Women Voters has officially endorsed the Best Practices. The students also plan on expanding the Transparency Project to local student groups in Utah.
– Alice Siempelkamp, Assistant Director, Content, Recovery.gov
Earl Devaney, Chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board has laid out a plan for expanding transparency and accountability beyond Recovery funding to include all government spending.
This plan would eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and providing increased accountability and transparency. The main feature of the plan is the elimination of eight separate data collection websites across government. Instead, they would be rolled up and combined into a “universal one-stop shop” consisting of three sites: one to collect data from recipients of federal awards; one to collect agency data; and one to display and visualize all the data, just as Recovery.gov does for Recovery data.
Read the entire Template for the Future.
On January 14, 2011, recipients of Recovery Act contracts, grants, and loans completed reporting for the period October 1 through December 31, 2010. From January 14 through the 29th, federal agencies and recipients reviewed the reports and recipients made changes and corrections. On January 30, the Recovery Board posted the recipient data on Recovery.gov — the sixth quarter that the data has been successfully collected and published in compliance with the Recovery Act. There are 10 more reporting quarters prior to the Board’s scheduled expiration in September 2013.
The quarterly reporting cycle is unique in a number of ways. First, it allows the data to be available on Recovery.gov in almost real time, providing an unprecedented level of transparency. The reports provide detailed information on the expenditures of federal stimulus dollars and jobs funded under the program. Finally, there has been a high rate of reporting compliance because the data is posted publicly and in a timely fashion.
Looking forward, the Recovery Board is evaluating ways to extend its recipient reporting model and the technologies developed for reporting to other federal spending programs.