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Big Data for Early Detection of Car Defects

March 2015

Can data mining and social media provide valuable information to detect car defects? How can this information be used by regulators and manufacturers to save lives? In the aftermath of deadly car accidents caused by ignition defects and exploding airbags these questions are crucial. Dina Kraft researched this topic while she was working at the Transparency Policy Project and her article recently appeared in the New York Times's Sunday Review. Read the article here

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


Why Critics of Transparency Are Wrong

November 2014

In a new Brookings Institution paper Gary Bass, Danielle Brian and Norman Eisen challenge the view that too much transparency would be detrimental for policy-making and governing. They bust several myths about the harm of transparency and show that government is still secretive and operating behind closed doors. More transparency is needed to combat government dysfunction, fight abuse and regain citizens' trust. Read the paper here. 

Disclosure: Psychology Changes Everything

October 2014

In their Annual Review of Economics article "Disclosure: Psychology Changes Everything" Loewenstein, Sunstein and Golman provide an insightful analysis of the mainstream economics assumptions on information disclosure and how psychology can substantially differ from those. The article offers advice on how to incorporate psychology lessons to design more effective transparency systems, from simplifying information to providing vivid, standardized disclosures and social comparison information. Access the article here

New book on the failure of disclosure

August 2014

A new book titled More Than You Wanted to Know: The Failure of Mandated Disclosure by Ben-Shahar and Schneider (Princeton University Press, 2014) claims that information disclosure is a ubiquitous yet ineffective regulatory tool. According to the authors, the quantity and complexity of information as well as consumers' cognitive limitations are among the reasons for the failure of disclosure. 

New project on transparency and accountability

August 2013

Archon Fung is a co-principal investigator of a five-year research project on accountability and transparency funded through an $8.1 million grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom. The project is a collaboration between the Ash Center and the Results for Development Institute and will evaluate how accountability and transparency improves governance and health care delivery in 200 communities in Indonesia and Tanzania. Other co-principal investigators are Stephen Kosack (University of Washington), Dan Levy (Harvard Kennedy School), Jean Arkedis and Courtney Tolmie (both from the Results for Development Institute). Jessica Creighton is the project manager based at the Ash Center.  “This project is designed to shed light on the creative ways in which transparency and health information can empower local communities to improve the public services they receive and, ultimately, public health outcomes,” said Archon Fung. “We hope that our approach of combining rigorous qualitative field research with randomized controlled trials will create a greater insight into the impact of transparency policies and the mechanisms that produce that impact,” said Vanessa Herringshaw of the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, which coordinated the project from conception to launch. 


Labor Department's Take on the Digital Government Strategy

August 2013

A White House initiative aimed at fostering the delivery of information to the public resulted in scores of federal agencies releasing a number of datasets through individual application programming interfaces, or APIs. An API is a method used for delivering dynamically updated information from one location to another—like the Twitter feed on the homepage of this website.

However, because a subscriber must learn a different system for accessing each API, it can be rather daunting to implement a number of them. The Labor Department opted to run asll their datasets through a single API. Read about it here on the Nextgov site.


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.