Public Access to Government Information (2013-2014)

In what ways are advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) making government more transparent? How does increased access to government information influence voters and subsequent policy decisions, and what obligations this places on government? Beyond improved access, what infrastructures need to be in place to maximize the benefits of new information technologies with respect to government?

Advances in ICT have the potential to change the relationship between the government and citizens in a democracy through expanded access to government-provided information. Through technology, governments can facilitate access to its operations and records, thereby potentially encouraging increased public scrutiny and analysis. This could include transparency of the legislative process, accountability of public finances and spending, deeper assessment of public benefits and better aggregation and distribution of government materials. If citizens better understood how governments operate on their behalf they might exert more effective control, increasing public goods, decreasing corruption and diminishing the influence of powerful special interest groups.

This project team examined issues of information needs, technology’s role in increasing access and the impact on governance. Team members focused on three overarching goals:

Goal 1: Investigate the theoretical and normative principles underlying the relation between information access and improved governance. This is the central research component of the project and it will follow the project over the long term.

Goal 2: Evaluate the theoretical and normative principles identified in Goal 1 by engaging individuals and small groups to identify and catalogue the parameters under which information is provided to the various potential audiences. The goal is to develop a robust and sustainable model for gathering, aggregating, analyzing, presenting and distributing large datasets (principally government related at this point but with potentially broader application) that have some relevance to contemporary public issues, general policy debates and current legislative proposals.

Goal 3: Find ways to expand the research team to other interested faculty and students.

Timing

2013-2014

See related team, Public Access to Government Information: Implementation, Voter Behavior and Rights (2014-2015).

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Kenneth Rogerson, Sanford School of Public Policy*
Orlin Vakarelov, Trinity - Philosophy*

Graduate Team Members

Aaron Ancell, Philosophy-PHD
Alexandra Deforge, Philosophy-PHD
Rafael Ventura, Philosophy-PHD

Undergraduate Team Members

Steven Blaser
Travis Byrum
Dagbedji Fagnisse
Brandon Ho, Statistical Science (BS)
Billy Huang
Sajal Kantha
Lauren Kelly, Public Policy Studies (AB)
Jeffrey Knaide
Precious Lockhardt
Derrick Man
Ian McKeirnan, Statistical Science (BS)
Alice Ni, Statistical Science (BS)
Daniel Park, Computer Science (BS)
Peter Picado-Curtis
Michael Schreiner
Toney Thompson
Priscilla Vencatachellapathee
Sunny Zhang, Environmental Sciences (BS), Public Policy Studies (AB2)

Community Team Members

NC Common Sense

* denotes team leader

Status

Completed, Archived