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

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.



Team Outcomes

What Is the Impact of North Carolina’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit? (poster by Tre’ Scott)

This Team in the News

Graduate Fellowship Winners Describe Their Research

See related teams, Government Transparency of Information (2015-2016) and Public Access to Government Information (2013-2014).

Team Leaders

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

/graduate Team Members

  • Aaron Ancell, Philosophy-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Justin Bryant, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Pimchanok Chuaylua, Computer Science (BS), Political Science (AB2)
  • Lauren Kelly, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Tanner Lockhead, Public Policy Studies (AB), Political Science (AB2)
  • Melinda McTeigue, Philosophy (AB)
  • Kevin Noh, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Sai Panguluri, Public Policy Studies (AB), History (AB2)
  • Ashley Qiang, Economics (BS), Public Policy Studies (AB2)
  • Yueqi (Angie) Shen, Statistical Science (BS)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • NC Common Sense