Case Study Source: The Joint U.S.-Brazil Initiative on Urban Sustainability, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Summary

Transparency policies and public reporting are considered essential for responsive and participatory governing structures. In response to a growing demand from citizens, governments have employed a number of strategies to expand transparency policies and reporting structures. Some of these efforts include partnering with other communities or nations on a public commitment, collaborating with industry that is on the leading edge of developing digital infrastructure and data management systems, to simply making government information more accessible through regularly updated public platforms.

Application

National and sub-national governments integrate transparency policies and public reporting in a variety of ways. In the United States, laws like the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, passed by Congress in 1986, have changed the way individual citizens can access information about toxic chemical emissions from industry and federal facilities.

Internationally, governments are collaborating through innovative new initiatives like the Open Government Partnership (OGP), launched in September 2011, to prioritize and share best practices on transparency in order to empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

Examples

To support transparency in the implementation of its Greenworks Philadelphia, Philadelphia publishes a comprehensive annual progress report. In 2012, the Mayor's Office of Sustainability will release the Greenworks Midway Update and Progress Report to provide updates to the original plan, add initiatives that have begun since 2009, and set new commitments.

The Brazilian Constitution ensures all citizens have the right to receive information from public agencies, whether it be due to a personal interest or the public as a whole. This information must be provided within the length of time allowed for by law, or the agency in question will be held liable. To regulate this and other similar provisions in the Brazilian Constitution, the Access to Information Act, which took effect on May 16, 2012, outlines the procedures that federal, state, and municipal agencies must follow in order to ensure access to information for all citizens.

In May 2009, the U.S. government launched Data.gov, which increases access for individual citizens to datasets generated and held by the federal government. This new platform enables the public to participate more productively in government by providing unprecedented access and expanding the opportunity for citizens and private developers to find innovative uses of federal data to build applications, conduct analyses, and perform research beyond the walls of government.