Transparency in government requires simplicity, clarity
by Siegel Gale
Transparency alone does not ensure simplicity. To reconnect with its citizens, the US government must provide clear, accessible and functional communications. There is still much work to be done.
"It is important to know that the promises we made about increased transparency we've executed here in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I mean, this is the first White House in history where you know anybody who has walked into my office, anybody who has walked into the White House, you actually have a record of who comes in. We have put more stuff on the Internet than ever."
—President Obama in an ABC News interview, January 2010
And that might just be the problem. For many, the appeal of transparency was that it would foster comprehension and understanding. But Obama cites putting "more stuff on the internet." Access to information is certainly a step toward comprehensibility, but it is a rather low hurdle in the gating process.
The internet is the largest sinkhole imaginable. A Feb. 11 Google search of the word "transparency" gets 39.3 million hits, and "transparency in government" only pares it down to 24.1 million. As long as the administration clings to the notion that transparency—an X-ray of what the topic or issue is, no matter how complicated, voluminous and bureaucratic—is a significant accomplishment, it will meet resistance, skepticism and derision.