“This is a critical book that anyone who cares if government works well needs to read. It gets to the heart of how democracy should function and provides a blueprint on how to get there.”
—James N. Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University
“Government transparency is important . . . and harder than you think to achieve! This book shows you what is required. It’s not just the ‘disclosure’ of information (that’s only step one), but also the accessibility and understandability of what is released, and the appeal of working with the information, that count. Case studies illustrate how transparency can be effective and how to get it—including from frequently intransigent public officials.”
—Wesley G. Skogan, professor of political science, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
“Too few political scientists try to come up with ways of improving our government. Donald Gordon is an exception. Not only does he diagnose the problem of transparency, but he also provides practical and feasible solutions that citizens and politicians can (and should) actually implement.”
—Andrew Roberts, associate professor of political science, Northwestern University, author of The Quality of Democracy in Eastern Europe
“Transparency” has become the new mantra of politicians and pundits alike. But what does it mean in practice? In this informative, clearly written book community activist Donald Gordon defines the essential features of a transparent government and makes a convincing case that it is critical for a healthy and maturing democracy and the basic liberties we all take for granted.
Gordon first presents a clear definition of transparency in government and why we should pursue it, followed by a review of the history of transparency in American politics. He then makes the case for how transparency serves as the foundation for active civic engagement.
The heart of the book is Gordon’s “Transparency Index.” The author examines best practices in measuring transparency and then isolates the critical factors that can be used to assess any type of government and its commitment to transparency. In addition, a scoring system is presented that allows for comparison of government entities.
For anyone who wishes that government were more effective and responsive, this book shows how these goals can be achieved.
FURTHER PRAISE FOR TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT:
“Calls for transparency and greater government accountability are a dime a dozen, but an actual mechanism to develop transparency is painfully lacking. This is where Transparent Government comes in and bridges the gap between saying and doing. In his book, Gordon not only lays out means for achieving transparency in government but does so with an eye to practicality, efficiency, and the limits and opportunities of our high-tech environment. This is a core read for practitioners and students of government alike.”
—Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto, PhD, University of Texas
“Donald Gordon has forgotten more about government transparency and organizing than most of us know about them. This book lays it all out clearly and powerfully.”
—Tom Tresser, Chicago educator, organizer, and cofounder of the CivicLab
“In this era of secret government surveillance and suspect financial dealings, Gordon’s call for greater openness and accountability is timely and potentially invaluable. This eminently readable book is also nimble, informed, and illuminating (you may have heard of innovative municipal tools like Reset San Francisco or Boston’s New Urban Mechanics, for example, but who knew Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel had so much in common with Colonel Nathan Jessup of A Few Good Men?). Gordon resurrects and redefines the term transparency, gives governments a talking-to and a master class in possibility, and delivers a bracing call to duty to democratic citizens and the media that informs them. Yet fear not, this book is good for America.”
—David Lepeska, freelance writer on municipal governance, technology, and media