The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Private Sector Innovations Can Aid Government Transparency

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The Policy Council has written extensively on the merits of transparency in government.

However, several mayors in South Carolina have referred to the call for online transparency sites as a “hassle” for city employees.

Good news for those who might say, “it’s too hard to implement.” The private sector has recently come out with technology to help facilitate transparency. Google and Microsoft have released tools that will make it even easier for local and state governments to post information on websites and improve transparency.

The Google Public Sector page will be a:

“one-stop shop of tools and tips that local, state and federal government officials can use to help promote transparency and increase citizen participation,” according a Google release on the site’s launch.

For example, Google partnered with the state of Arizona to make hundreds of thousands of public records searchable and visible via Google. The project reportedly took less than 50 technical staff hours to complete.

Microsoft developed their product in response to the stimulus bill and enables agencies to track where stimulus dollars are going.

“The Microsoft Stimulus360 solution helps public sector agencies track, measure, and share information about federal stimulus programs through easy-to-use graphical dashboards and maps.”

While some of the software must be purchased, many of the tools are free.

These private innovations in the marketplace can prove useful for governments – if they choose to take advantage of them. The more money government saves, the more tax money can be returned to citizens. The more information that governments post online, the more efficiently and wisely taxpayer dollars will be spent.

In the end, there are no excuses left: online transparency is easy, cheap and good for government.


Written by Geoff Pallay

September 16, 2009 at 11:00 am

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