Monday, December 17, 2007


Dear Colleagues

Transparency is sadly lacking in modern economic life ... though there is the appearance of information sharing, modern economic entities make only a very limited amount of information available for external use and scrutiny.

Transparency was popularized in the international arena when Transparency International was formed ... and the good news was that the word transparency became the subject of conferences, workshops and the like, but the bad news was that the talk was not matched by very much change in the way in which organizations operated.

One of the ongoing concerns is that the lack of transparency is not limited to just the corporate enterprise, or just a particular government, or just an institution like the World Bank, or the IMF or the UN ... but is a universal problem that is also common in the NGO community. Few organizations want to let others see very much at all about what they are doing. In the main organizations only make information available that they are required to by law, or which they consider to be useful for their public relations and promotion.

The consequences of this are significant. For instance: the public has no role in helping to hold economic organizations to account for the impact that organizations are having in any specific community. This can make a very big difference in the socio-economic situation in a community, and it is an aberation that a major economic actor in a community can effectively do whatever without very much accountability to the community. For instance: organizations are able to report very limited financial information, while at the same time publishing a lot of information about very little to give the impression of lots of worthwhile activity. This works well and helps with fund raising ... but it does not do anything to help get good allocation of resources and cost effective socio-economic progress.

There are emerging ways for the issue of transparency to be addressed so that the public can know much more of what it is reasonable the public should know. Small steps are being made, and the power of Internet knowledge is more and more coming into play. Tr-Ac-Net is playing a part in this, and will do more as time progresses.

Stay tuned

Peter Burgess