Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation The Transparency Policy Project

News Archive

To narrow your selection, please use the category and date selectors below.


News Categories:


The Secrets of the Oval Office

February 2017

Peter Kann, a former CEO of Dow Jones and Pulitzer Prize winner, reviewed Mary Graham's latest book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017). Read Kann's review, "The Secrets of the Oval Office," on the Wall Street Journal. 

Mary Graham at Roosevelt House

February 2017

 On March 6, 2017 at 6:30pm Mary Graham will present her new book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017) at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in New York. Learn more here

Mary Graham on WBUR Here and Now

February 2017

Mary Graham talked about her latest book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017) with Here and Now's host Jeremy Hobson. Listen to the interview here

Mary Graham at Harvard Book Store

February 2017

Please join us February 23, 7:00pm at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge to hear Mary Graham talk about her new book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017). 

Presidential Secrecy on Fresh Air

February 2017

On February 20, 2017 Mary Graham, author of "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017), will talk about presidential secrecy and transparency on National Public Radio's Fresh Air. Tune into your local NPR radio station to listen.

Listen to Mary Graham's Interview on Fresh Air

February 2017

On Presidents' Day, Fresh Air host Terry Gross interviewed Mary Graham to talk about her new book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale Univesity Press, 2017) and explore the boundaries of presidential secrecy. You can download the podcast here.

The Problem with Presidential Secrecy

February 2017

Ambassador Norm Eisen and Mary Graham talked about presidential secrecy at a recent JFK Jr Forum event. Archon Fung moderated the discussion. Eisen suggested that darkness is an "enabling factor for corruption," affecting policy-making and resulting in poor policies that can harm the public. Graham, author of the book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017), noted that secrecy, not transparency, has been the norm for presidents and observed that only three presidents embraced transparency: George Washington, and, to a lesser extent, Gerald Ford and Barak Obama. The Harvard Gazette covered the event, read more here.

Watch Forum on Presidential Secrecy

February 2017

Watch here a recent Forum discussion on presidential secrecy, with Norm Eisen, Mary Graham and Archon Fung.

First Do No Harm: Best Practices for Patient Safety

February 2016

Journalist David Bornstein explores medical errors, and the most promising solutions to this urgent problem, in two articles for the New York Times Fixes blog. The first article discusses how networks of hospitals are working together to share best practices and learn from each other the most successful strategies to improve patient safety. The second one presents concrete solutions adopted by certain hospitals to reduce harm to patients, from new screening procedures to reduce blood clots and sepsis, to creating "a culture of learning, transparency and improvement" in medical organizations.   

Only a Handful of States Report Medical Adverse Events by Hospital

February 2015

 A report by the National Academy for State Health Policy looked at state adverse event reporting systems in 2014. Only 27 states have reporting systems where hospitals and other medical facilities are required to report information on adverse events to state health authorities. The number of states is unchanged from 2007, when the NASHP conducted its previous evaluation. As of 2014, only six states disclose to the public facility-specific information, 16 states only publish aggregate data and five states do not publicly report adverse information. For most states, adverse event reporting has contributed to raising awareness and to adopting corrective actions. Some states, for example Minnesota, also showed a decline in deaths from adverse events and a decline in events resulting in serious disabilities. Access the report here.   

Transparency for Patient Safety

February 2015

 A new report by the National Patient Safety Foundation's Lucian Leape Institute discusses how transparency could help reduce medical errors and promote a culture of safety. The report examines transparency between doctors and patients but also among physicians, among organizations and in the form of external reporting. The report formulates concrete recommendations and offers examples of best practices in transparency from several case studies. Read the full report here.  

GAO Report on Health Care Transparency

February 2015

A GAO report discusses how transparency can improve the cost and quality of health care for patients. The report finds gaps in several Medicare transparency initiatives that disclose information on nursing homes, physicians and hospitals. The report suggests that "transparency tools are most effective if they provide information relevant to consumers and convey information in a way that consumers can readily understand." Read the report here


Transparency without Democracy: The Unexpected Effects of China’s Environmental Disclosure Policy

February 2013

Yeling Tan, Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy degree program at the Kennedy School of Government, published her article titled “Transparency without Democracy: The Unexpected Effects of China’s Environmental Disclosure Policy”, in Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions. This article examines the impact of transparency regulations enacted under authoritarian conditions, through a study of China’s environmental transparency measures. Given China’s decentralized administrative structure, environmental disclosure ends up being weakest in the most polluted cities. However, the measures have allowed nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to affect environmental governance through unusual pathways. Multinational companies (MNCs) have used NGO pollution databases to monitor Chinese suppliers, whereas local governments have responded to a transparency index with greater NGO engagement.

Data for the Public Good

February 2012

O'Reilly's Open Government reporter, Alex Howard, has produced a comprehensive review of the benefits of open data in "Data for the Public Good." In this report he cites Francisca Rojas' research on how open data in transit has spurred a rich ecosystem of civic innovation that has generated dozens of customer-facing applications for transit riders.


Hacking public risk: empowering citizens with environmental data

February 2012

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) and SafeCast are two projects born of disaster: the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf and the Fukushima Diachi nuclear accident after the Japan earthquake. In response, these two groups have developed and deployed low-cost digital tools that people can use to monitor the effects of these disasters and other public risks on their environment.

The Public Laboratory is an open source community that builds do-it-yourself toolkits that enable citizen-based data gathering, such as the helium-filled balloons and digital cameras they use to generate high-resolution aerial imagery to track the Gulf oil spill. SafeCast has been deploying a radiation sensor network in Japan that empowers everyday people to collect data on radiation levels and access that data to be better informed about radiation impact in their community.

Jeffrey Warren, director of research for PLOTS, and Sean Bonner, director at SafeCast, join the Transparency Policy Project on Monday, February 13th at 11:30am-12:30pm at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation (124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North)  to share their experiences in do-it-yourself environmental monitoring.


Did the Stimulus Do Anything for Transparency?

February 2012

Governing magazine's Ryan Holeywell examines the Recovery Act's effect on state transparency in his article "Did the Stimulus Do Anything for Transparency?". Holeywell identifies the greatest legacy of the stimulus as motivating states to develop sophisticated online transparency portals. The article cites Francisca Rojas' research noting how Massachusetts' Open Checkbook site is an outgrowth of the state's experience with Recovery Act transparency, but also warning that lack of public interest in these efforts can also lead to these websites going dark, like in California.


Fung discusses Hard Truths About Disclosure in NYT's Sunday Review

January 2012

Archon Fung, co-director of the Transparency Policy Project, is quoted in Elisabeth Rosenthal's piece "Hard Truths about Disclosure" in The New York Times Sunday Review (January 21, 2012). Fung emphasizes that effective disclosure is based upon clear, actionable information, stating: I’d like to see an effort toward prioritizing what information is really important and then some effort in providing the data in a way that is simple and effective.


A call to open GPS data for Boston's school buses

January 2012

Francisca Rojas, research director at the Transparency Policy Project (TPP), and David Luberoff, executive director of Harvard's Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, published an op-ed in the Boston Globe titled "Tardy school buses? There's an app for that" on January 10, 2012. Rojas and Luberoff call for Boston's public schools to make information about the location of its buses available to parents, students, teachers and principals as a way to improve the system's problem of late buses. The argument for this "open data" strategy is based on TPP's research findings on the outcomes of public transit agencies' release of bus and train locations to the public.


Details behind food labels revealed.

January 2011

Upon scanning the bar code on food packaging, Fooducate, a free iphone app, will highlight additives, offer alternatives, compare similar products, and provide a letter grade. More information.


David Weil delivers a paper called Making Transparency More Transparent

February 2009

David Weil delivered a paper called "Making Transparency More Transparent" at the Transparency and Accountability: The Role of Information Disclosure conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.