Transparency and accountability, whether in government, business, or other spheres of public life, ensures public trust in the integrity and fairness of leaders, elected officials and public servants. International exchange programs on transparency and accountability typically highlight the roles of civil society and the media as watchdogs and catalysts for the creation and maintenance of transparent and accountable government and organizations. The importance of protecting these two concepts is recognized by civil societies and such protective efforts form the bases of numerous international exchange programs.
Transparency and accountability can both be applied to a broad range of concerns in today’s public square:
- Taxation and tax governance
- The courts/litigation
- Bias in education and the workplace
- Consumer protection
- Campaign financing
- Elections systems
- Health care financing
- Civil and human rights
- Environmental pollution
- Child care service provision
- Social accountability – improving the public space
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and sunshine laws are an important element of governmental transparency and accountability. Every state, similar to the federal government, has its own FOIA, an important piece of legislation not common in many other countries. Institutions representing the sectors listed above will often have their own inspectors general and/or ombudsmen. State governments may have an auditor general or legislative auditor who perform both financial and programmatic audits. Primary actors in the work of ensuring transparency and accountability include the media, the legal profession and issue and policy-oriented non-governmental organizations.
Programs on transparency and accountability might also examine policies and programs that protect whistle blowers and those who speak out about illicit or unethical activity.
Many applicable resources in different communities can be found through research. The following link provides more information on the topic of transparency and accountability and the importance of these two concepts to global governance and civil society. https://www.transparency-initiative.org