The recent election has raised the issue of transparency in government to a high priority. What is government transparency – and why does it matter?
Transparency measures the amount of openness, accountability, and integrity of a government entity. Without transparency, corruption can easily, and usually will, flourish. “Governments exist to serve the people. Information on how officials conduct the public’s business and spend taxpayers’ money must be readily available and easily understood. This transparency allows good and just governance.” (see https://ballotpedia.org/Government_transparency
When transparency is lacking, the public has no way of knowing when abuses of power, bribery, or other forms of corruption are happening.
A number of agencies and organizations have as their mission to improve transparency and honesty in government, and hold public officials accountable for their actions.
These groups include both international and US groups.
- Transparency International has chapters in more than 100 countries and headquarters in Berlin fighting against corruption across the globe. https://www.transparency.org
- The US Office of Government Ethics (OGE) https://www.oge.gov focuses on ethics in the executive branch of the federal government.
- The STARTGUIDE has compiled a list of 17 US groups focused on government accountability: http://www.startguide.org/orgs/orgs01.html#cat7
The President of LWV of the US has just issued a call to action, to mobilize people against the tide of corruption that seems headed towards the highest levels of our government. We hope this will lead to a commitment to transparency for the incoming President and Congress. Here is what she says:
‘The League is joining with allied organizations for a Hill Call-In Day urging Congress to address President-elect Trump’s unprecedented and unconstitutional conflicts of interest. The calls will support a forthcoming bill from Senator Elizabeth Warren that will require the President to divest ownership of businesses and disclose all business dealings in order to avoid severe unconstitutional conflicts of interest.
‘For more background, read what this article in the New York Times had to say about these conflicts of interest.
‘Congress needs to hear from you. When you act, Congress will listen.
To participate, call the below numbers to connect with your two Senators and your one Representative between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm EST tomorrow, Wednesday, when congressional offices are open. You will be automatically connected to your appropriate congressional offices based on the zip code you provide.
Senate – 1-866-985-2543
House – 1-866-948-8977
- President-elect Trump has conflicts of interest that are unprecedented for an American president. He could violate the Constitution and the law on his first day in office because of prohibited payments to him from his foreign and domestic businesses. Every other President and cabinet official before him has acted to avoid these types of conflicts of interest.
- Mr. Trump has not fully disclosed how he will resolve these dangerous conflicts. Americans have been given little more than vague pledges about transferring operations and nothing about transferring ownership. Bi-partisan ethics officials from Republican and Democratic administrations agree this is completely inadequate and does not resolve his dangerous conflicts.
- Congress must act to protect the interests of the American people and the integrity of the presidency. President-elect Trump must resolve his conflicts of interest and Congress must require that he disclose his finances and divest his business conflicts.
‘House call: Ask your Representative to call for a congressional investigation to review Mr. Trump’s business dealings in order to identify and protect against conflicts of interest.
‘Senate calls: Ask your Senators to call for an investigation to review Mr. Trump’s financial arrangements. Urge Senators to support Senator Warren’s new bill that will require the President-elect to divest ownership and disclose all business dealings in order to avoid serious and unconstitutional conflicts of interest.
Chris Carson, President, LWVUS’