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.



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

Team Leaders

  • Kenneth Rogerson, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Orlin Vakarelov, Arts & Sciences-Philosophy

/graduate Team Members

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

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Steven Blaser
  • Travis Byrum
  • Dagbedji Fagnisse
  • Brandon Ho, Statistical Science (BS)
  • Billy Huang
  • Sajal Kantha, Computer Science (BS)
  • Lauren Kelly, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Jeffrey Knaide, Economics (BS), Environmental Sci/Policy (AB2)
  • Precious Lockhardt
  • Derrick Man
  • Ian McKeirnan, Statistical Science (BS)
  • Alice Ni, Statistical Science (BS), Computer Science (BS2)
  • Daniel Park, Economics (BS), Statistical Science (BS2)
  • Peter Picado-Curtis
  • Michael Schreiner, Economics (BS)
  • Toney Thompson
  • Priscilla Vencatachellapathee
  • Sunny Zhang, Environmental Sciences (BS), Public Policy Studies (AB2)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • NC Common Sense