Full Disclosure

The Perils and Promise of Transparency

by Archon Fung, Mary Graham, David Weil

Governments in recent decades have employed public disclosure strategies to reduce risks, improve public and private goods and services, and reduce injustice. In the United States, these targeted transparency policies include financial securities disclosures, nutritional labels, school report cards, automobile rollover rankings, and sexual offender registries. They constitute a light-handed approach to governance that empowers citizens. However, as Full Disclosure shows these policies are frequently ineffective or counterproductive. Based on a comparative analysis of eighteen major policies, the authors suggest that transparency policies often produce information that is incomplete, incomprehensible, or irrelevant to the consumers, investors, workers, and community residents who could benefit from them. Sometimes transparency fails because those who are threatened by it form political coalitions to limit or distort information. To be successful, transparency policies must place the needs of ordinary citizens at centre stage and produce information that informs their everyday choices.

  • Cambridge University Press; March 2007
  • ISBN: 9780511271854
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Full Disclosure
  • Author: Archon Fung; Mary Graham; David Weil
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

'This rich, carefully researched, well balanced, and readily accessible study shows us that good governance, with legislators at the local, state or national levels in the lead, is surely difficult but far from unattainable. This hard nosed scholarship demonstrating, as the authors themselves discovered, that pragmatism about both policy expectations and policy results should prevail among political leaders and citizens alike.' Perspectives on Politics