Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation The Transparency Policy Project



How to determine if a business is COVID-19 safe? Create a restaurant-style grading system

June 2020

In early 2020, as the risks of exposure to the COVID virus were becoming clear, restaurants and other businesses responded in varied ways that gave more or less protection to customers and employees. But protection measures often  remained hidden. We suggested in a Los Angeles Times article that the government should quickly create a simple rating system to inform the public about which businesses offered excellent protection.

Can Transparency and Technology Make Us Healthier?

August 2017

Elena Fagotto, Transparency Policy Project Director of Research and Archon Fung, Transparency Policy Project Co-Director, reflect on how transparency and digital technology can empower people to take better care of their health. Whereas digital platforms allow patients to access important health information and share their health data to advance medical research, less tech-savvy patients may be left behind. Read their latest Commonwealth Fund blog post. 

David Weil Named Dean of Brandeis University's Heller School

June 2017

We are pleased to announce that David Weil, Transparency Policy Project Co-Director, will become the new dean of Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management, effective August 14, 2017. Weil will also become a full professor on the Heller faculty. In his new role, Weil will lead a policy school and research institution focused on driving positive social change and addressing disparities in well-being from health care to sustainable development. "I believe that inequality is the contral issue of our time, and addressing it is at the core of Heller's mission,' Weil said. Read the announcement here

Delaying Workplace Transparency Hurts American Workers

June 2017

In an op-ed on The Hill, David Michaels, formerly OSHA Administrator, and David Weil, Transparency Policy Project Co-Director, criticize the Trump administration's decision to indefinitely delay a transparency rule that would have promoted workplace safety. The rule, which would have gone into effect in July 2017, required employees to file injury and illnesses reports with OSHA in electronic format. OSHA promised to make the data available to the general public on the internet. This transparency measure, Michaels and Weil explain, would nudge employers to protect their workers, would allow better targeting of OSHA's scarce resources, and would let employees choose safer workplaces. The authors also urge President Trump to embrace workplace transparency, an inexpensive and commonsense way to save the limbs and lives of American workers. Read their op-ed here

Mary Graham on the West Wing Weekly Podcast

March 2017

Mary Graham talked about her latest book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017) on the West Wing Weekly podcast. Listen to the podcast here.

Mary Graham on PBS Newshour

March 2017

Mary Graham talked about her latest book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017) with PBS Newshour Weekend producer and correspondent Christopher Booker. Watch the interview here

Video of Mary Graham at Roosevelt House

March 2017

On March 6, 2017 Mary Graham talked about 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. Watch a video of the event.

Graham Discusses Presidential Secrecy with Harvard Gazette

March 2017

Mary Graham talked about her career spent researching transparency and her latest book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017) in a recent Harvard Gazette interview. Read the interview here

Mary Graham on Kera FM Think

March 2017

Mary Graham talked about her latest book "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale University Press, 2017) with Think's host Krys Boyd on Kera FM in Texas. Listen to the interview here

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

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 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). 

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.

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.

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.

Presidential Secrecy from Washington to Trump

January 2017

Please join us for a panel discussion on Presidential Secrecy from Washington to Trump with Norman Eisen and Mary Graham, moderated by Archon Fung.

Date: Monday, February 6th, 2017, 6:00pm-7:00pm
Location: John F. Kennedy Jr Forum, 79 JFK St, Cambridge, MA 02138

About the speakers:
Norman Eisen, Fellow, the Brookings Institution. Special Assistant and Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, 2009-2011. US Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2011-2014).

Mary Graham, Co-Director, Transparency Policy Project, Ash Center, Harvard Kennedy School. Author of "Presidents' Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power" (Yale Univesity Press, 2017).

Archon Fung
, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship and Academic Dean, Harvard Kennedy School, Co-Director, Transparency Policy Project.


A Look at the Effectiveness of Menu Labeling

July 2016

Rui Zhang, Transparency Policy Project research assistant, takes and in-depth look at menu labeling. She finds that labeling induces restaurants to add healthier options, but the impact on consumers' choices is less clear. Some studies indicate a moderate effect in curbing the number of calories purchased, others find limited or no effect. Zhang also discusses ways to make menu labeling more effective, such as using exercise-equivalent labels or using colors like green, yellow and red to distinguish low and high calorie foods. Read her Harvard Ash Center's Challenges to Democracy blog post. 

Our Testimony on OSHA's Injuries and Illnesses Transparency Rule

June 2016

In May, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule requiring workplaces with more than 250 employees and smaller establishments in high-risk industries to electronically report injuries and illnesses to OSHA. Some of the data will be shared with the public on OSHA's website to trigger safety improvements and inform workers, administrators and the general public. Elena Fagotto, TPP's Director of Research, submitted a written testimony to the House's Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hearing discussing the rule's impact on workers and employers. The testimony explains how shedding light on injuries and illnesses could make American workplaces safer by stimulating competition and mutual learning within the industry and by helping OSHA target its resources. Read the testimony


Transparency for Safer Workplaces

May 2016

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) bets on transparency to improve workplace safety. OSHA has issued a final rule requiring certain employers in risky industries to electronically submit injury and illness data. Employers are already collecting this information, but OSHA will now make some of it publicly available in an effort to encourage employers to make workplaces safer. OSHA believes that transparency will trigger a race to the top among employers to compete on safety. OSHA will use the data to target its enforcement resources and improve compliance. But also workers, job seekers, customers, journalists, and the general public will be able to use the information to evaluate workplace safety. The new information will allow researchers to identify emerging risks and trends in risk reduction in the industry. The rule also contains anti-retaliation protections and prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, commented:  "Our new rule will nudge employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable 'big data' researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.” The new rule becomes effective January 1, 2017 and the reporting requirements will be phased in over two years. Read a fact sheet on the rule. Read the rule.


Health Affairs Examines Patients' Use of Transparency and Evidence

May 2016

In its April 2016 issue, Health Affairs examines whether and how patients and consumers use information to choose providers and to play a more active role in decisions about their health. The special issue reports that too often the jargon used and the information disclosed is more relevant to providers and health care systems than to patients. But the issue also identifies promising cases, from Yelp hospital reviews to customized nursing home ratings, where information may help patients make better health care choices. 

Health Affairs Focuses on Food and Health

May 2016

In its November 2015 special issue, Health Affairs focuses on the complex relationship between food and health. The articles in the issue examine the public's understanding of the impact of dietary choices on health and discuss several policy options introduced to improve Americans' diets, including menu labeling. Research on menu labeling points to a reduction in calories of menu items at restaurants displaying calorie information, but questions the impact of labeling on the dietary choices of restaurant goers.

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.   

Access Our Webinar on Transparency

October 2015

On September 30th, 2015 we held a webinar titled "Information as a Tool for Regulation, How Can Transparency Work for You" for the Open Government Partnership. We would like to thank all the participants for their questions and the World Bank Group Open Learning Campus for organizing the webinar. We also thank Dr. Ben Worthy of Birbeck College, University of London, for acting as a thoughtful discussant. In case you missed it, you can see and hear our presentation here

Webinar on Information as a Tool for Regulation

September 2015

Join us for an upcoming Open Government Partnership webinar titled "Information as a Tool for Regulation, How Can Transparency Work for You." Elena Fagotto, Research Director of the Transparency Policy Project, will discuss what are the common obstacles to effective transparency systems and how insights from behavioral economics can help design simple and actionable transparency. When: Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 from 10-11am EST. Register here

Too Much Information, Making Transparency Good for You

September 2015

In our recent Boston Review essay we assess the latest developments in transparency systems in the US. From menu labeling to credit card transparency, we discuss how certain features, like providing information in meaningful formats, and giving consumers choice among options can increase the impact of transparency. Building on the current debate on transparency, we conclude that transparency is less simple that it appears, and that behind an aura of openness, powerful interests continue to lobby intensely against disclosure. Read the essay here

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

Transparency in the global food system

September 2014

A conference titled “Transparency in the Global Food System: What Information and to What Ends” will be held October 24-25, 2014 at the UCLA Faculty Center. The conference will explore the meaning of transparency in food law and policy, how consumers use information, and the limits of disclosure. Dr. David A. Kessler, former FDA Commissioner and Professor at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School will deliver the keynote address. The conference is a joint initiative of the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law and The Food Law Lab at Harvard Law School. Learn more here

Global Conference on Transparency Research

September 2014

The fourth edition of the Global Conference on Transparency Research will be held at Universita' della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, Switzerland on 4-6 June, 2015. Previous editions were held in Newark (2011), Utrecht (2012) and Paris (2013). At the conference, an interdisciplinary community including legal scholars, political scientists, sociologists, economists, and journalists discuss current issues on transparency and access to information. For more information visit the conference website.  

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. 

Fung is new Academic Dean at HKS

June 2014

Archon Fung, Co-director of the Transparency Policy Project, is also the new Academic Dean at Harvard Kennedy School. The Academic Dean reports directly to Dean David Ellwood and is responsible for overseeing the school’s academic priorities, including faculty appointments and reviews, curriculum issues, the faculty steering committee, faculty conflict of interest and research integrity policies, and numerous other academic issues. "I am eager to embrace this new challenge of helping to guide the Kennedy School's academic priorities. The mission of our school is to train public leaders and produce ideas that help solve the daunting public problems facing our societies. I look forward to working closely with our incredibly talented and diverse faculty, Dean Ellwood, and the rest of the senior leadership team to advance that mission," said Fung. Read more.

The opaque supply chain

June 2014

 In a Science Magazine special issue on global supply chains, Dara O'Rourke (University of California, Berkeley) examines sustainability and transparency in today's complex supply chains. He finds that although data collection has been growing, inconsistencies remain and that often even large corporations lack access to critical information on the commodities and products used by their suppliers. Read more.  

TPP Co-Director Steps Down for Position in the Labor Department

May 2014

David Weil, a former co-director of the Transparency Policy Project, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 28, 2014 as the new US Wage and Hour Administrator in the Department of Labor. The focus of his research is a firm foundation for the job as it includes regulatory and labor market policy, industrial and labor relations, and occupational safety and health. 

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.


Targeting Transparency

June 2013

by David Weil, Mary Graham, and Archon Fung was published in the June issue of Science. The article reports on research on targeted transparency. It summarizes findings by the Transparency Policy Project showing that information disclosure can help reduce health and safety risks and improve public services when disclosure is applied to appropriate problems and carefully designed. Take a look

Budget Transparency and Accountability

April 2013

Sanjeev Khagram, Archon Fung and Paolo de Renzio are the editors of “Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability” (Brookings Institution Press, 2013). The volume examines budget transparency in countries ranging from South Africa to Guatemala and illuminates how innovations in fiscal transparency come about and how they may strengthen government accountability. Read more.

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.

Transit Transparency: Effective Disclosure Through Open Data

August 2012

The Transparency Policy Project is pleased to announce the release of Transit Transparency: Effective Disclosure Through Open Data.

This study examines the process by which some transit agencies in the U.S. disclosed their operations data to the public and analyzes how constituencies for that data, particularly software developers and transit riders, used that information. This report is based upon five case histories of public transit agencies – Portland‘s TriMet, Boston‘s MBTA, Chicago‘s CTA, Washington‘s WMATA, and New York‘s MTA (see Appendix III: Case Studies). We sought to understand the origin, evolution and effect of those agencies‘ open data initiatives using extensive interview work, web research, and analyses of customer surveys. 

We found that transit agencies‘ disclosure of operations data improved upon prior customer-information systems because: first, a subset of transit riders with programming skills were able to improve upon existing customer-information systems by customizing schedule, route and real-time arrival data to meet rider needs; second, the development of a data standard for schedule and geospatial information allowed quick adoption by transit agencies and data uptake by independent software developers; and third, the proactive engagement of local software developers by transit agencies fostered a sustainable community of use around transit data. 


Transparency Policy Project releases report on Recovery Act Transparency

July 2012

The IBM Center for the Business of Government has released the Transparency Policy Project's report Recovery Act Transparency: Learning from States' Experience. By examining the experience of six states in implementing the leading edge of federal spending transparency, this report seeks to understand what the disclosure of Recovery Act data accomplished, who used the available information, and to what ends. This research was funded by the Open Society Institute and the IBM Center for the Business of Government. 


Communities of Transparency: Open Data in Action

March 2012

Francisca Rojas, research director at the Transparency Policy Project, presents with Frank Hebbert, director of civic works at OpenPlans at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas on March 10, 2012. The title of the presentation is Communities of Transparency: Open Data in Action. The session explores two instances of transparency that utilize open data approaches - in transit information and Recovery Act expenditures - and discusses challenges to ensuring that disclosed data generates public benefits.


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.


IDB hosts roundtable on transparency

December 2011

On December 15, 2011, the Inter-American Development Bank hosts a roundtable discussion on Transparency and Integrity as a Condition for Sustainable Development. Discussants review the IDB’s strategic approach to transparency and anticorruption -- which employs the Transparency Policy Project's targeted transparency framework -- and discuss initiatives and progress at the country level in the US, Mexico, Brazil and Chile, including the Open Government Partnership, a global initiative launched in September of 2011 of which several IDB member countries are participants. 


National Academies report on disclosure of food safety data now available

December 2011

The National Research Council has published its report on the disclosure of food safety data: The Potential Consequences of Public Release of Food Safety and Inspection Service Establishment-Specific Data. In the course of its regulatory activities, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) collects large volumes of food safety data from firms that process meat, poultry, and egg products, some of which FSIS aggregates and publishes on its website. This new report responds to an FSIS request to study the implications of publishing disaggregated establishment-specific data. The Transparency Policy Project's David Weil served on the study committee.


National Academies releases report on disclosure of food safety data

November 2011

David Weil served on the National Research Council study committee to produce the report: The Potential Consequences of Public Release of Food Safety and Inspection Service Establishment-Specific Data.
In the course of its regulatory activities, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) collects large volumes of food safety data from firms that process meat, poultry, and egg products, some of which FSIS aggregates and publishes on its website. In response to an FSIS request to study the implications of publishing disaggregated establishment-specific data, the National Research Council is releasing the report The Potential Consequences of Public Release of Food Safety and Inspection Service Establishment-Specific Data.  As part of the release, a one-hour public teleconference will be held on November 30 at 10:30 AM via WebEx. In this teleconference, the Chair of the study committee gives a brief overview of the committee’s charge and the findings and conclusions of the committee and then takes questions from teleconference participants. To participate in the teleconference, please follow instructions on the current project website.


Dara O'Rourke on transparency and ethical consumption.

November 2011

The Transparency Policy Project is hosting GoodGuide co-founder Dara O'Rourke on November 28, 2011 at the Harvard Kennedy School's Ash Center for Democratic Governance for a discussion of the promise and peril of mobilizing the ethical consumer through greater transparency. By simply downloading an app, consumers can access environmental, social and health impacts of more than 140,000 products. What does this mean for market interactions and for the governance of global supply chains? His talk is titled "Data is Power, or Is It? Mobilizing the Ethical Consumer" and will be held at 124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North at 4pm.


MIT Transportation Showcase

November 2011

Our research on the impact of transit data will be featured at the MIT Transportation Showcase on Thursday, November 17th from 6pm to 9:30pm at the MIT Museum. Francisca Rojas is collaborating on this work with Candace Brakewood, a PhD student at MIT's Engineering Systems Division, who will present a poster showing results from a customer survey conducted with the MBTA on Boston's commuter rail system that seeks to capture the effects of real time data on rider behavior and attitudes.

Yeling Tan presents on environmental transparency in China

November 2011

Yeling Tan, a pre-doctoral candidate in the Ph.D. in Public Policy degree program at the Kennedy School of Government, presents her paper titled "Clearing the Air? The Role of NGOs in China's Environmental Transparency Measures" at a brown bag lunch in the Ash Center. November 17th from 12noon-1pm at 124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Room 226.


Michael Luca on the role of information in markets

November 2011

Michael Luca, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School,  joins us at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation on November 10, 2011 from 12-1pm for a brown bag lunch presentation titled "Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of".


Transnational Virtual Networks

November 2011

Archon Fung joins Dara O'Rourke and others for a panel discussion on the potential of new technologies to strengthen and build capacity within transnational networks of civil society groups at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies on November 7. 


BitCity: 2011

October 2011

Francisca Rojas presents as a panelist at the first BitCity: 2011 debate on "Transportation, Data, and Technology in Cities" on November 4 at Columbia University. She discusses research on the benefits and challenges of open data initiatives by transit agencies in the U.S.  


Where's My Bus... and Beyond

October 2011

The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and the Transparency Policy Project co-sponsor a presentation by Francisca Rojas on how transit agencies across the U.S. released their data to the public on November 1 at HKS. The MBTA's Director of Innovation, Josh Robin, will comment.


Urban Systems webinar on Communities of Transparency

September 2011

Francisca Rojas presents current research on when and how open data succeeds in bridging information gaps for the public. Using the example of how transit agencies opened their operations data to the public, this session traces the process and outcomes of a successful case of open data in action. Visit the website.


David Weil appointed to National Research Council committee

August 2011

The committee looks at the consequences of disclosing data from USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (the enforcement division of the US Dept. of Agriculture in charge of inspecting meat and poultry facilities) on the web and is charged with reviewing the public benefits and potential costs of providing the public with detailed, establishment level information arising from inspections. The National Research Council is part of the National Academy of Sciences. 


White House champions disclosure as regulation.

June 2011

The White House issued principles of good design for public disclosure as regulatory tool in a memo issued by Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.


Weil on the causes and consequences of workplace restructuring

May 2011

David Weil gave a series of talks in the summer of 2011 on the causes and consequences of workplace restructuring and its impact on workplace regulation. These talks, including at the International Labour Office in Geneva and at NYU, Columbia, and Cornell University included the use of targeted transparency as a means of clarifying responsbility for employment conditions. 

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.


Participedia: New citizen participation in government.

November 2010

Based on a wiki platform, Participedia is a new tool for strengthening democracy. The main content of this new site consists of user-generated articles which describe and assess participatory governance throughout the world. Visit the website.


Behavioral Economics and Regulatory Design

November 2010

David Weil participated in the Behavioral Economics and Regulatory Design workshop organized by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Russell Sage Foundation in New York with a paper entitled "From Disaggregated Data to Nudges: The Role of Transparency in Future Regulation."

DOL website delivers detailed data on worker protection programs.

October 2010

The US Department of Labor recently launches a site that enables users to search a number of different enforcement databases for information regarding employer violations of a range of major workplace protections—health and safety, workplace benefits provision, and labor standards compliance. Visit the site.

David Weil advises government on protecting workers.

May 2010

David Weil's report for the U.S. Department of Labor entitled Improving Workplace Conditions through Strategic Enforcement was released. 


Against Transparency

October 2009

Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University reflects on transparency and illustrates how, in some circumstances, transparency fails to fulfill its promise. Read his New Republic article here

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. 

Full Disclosure is reviewed in Political Science Quarterly

November 2008

Jay Shimshack reviewed the book in Political Science Quarterly. In his comments he says that he suspects the book, " destined to become the definitive book in the area, and [he] recommend[s] it to academics commencing or conducting disclosure research, policymakers considering or refining information programs, and decision makers concerned about the impact of transparency on the organizational bottom line." A full copy of his comments made be ordered here


Archon Fung delivers talk in Berlin

October 2008

Archon Fung delivered talk entitled "Data Driven Public Spaces: From Private to Semi-Public" at a workshop on the Decline and Rise of Public Spaces, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany.


October 2008

Archon Fung created and maintained a website called MyFairElection during the 2008 election season that allowed people to rate their voting experience on election day in order to identify any issues or problems with the voting process. 



Full Disclosure is reviewed in Perspectives on Politics

December 2007

A review of the book by Brian Cook appeared in Perspectives on Politics. The full text of the article may be obtained here.  


David Weil invited speaker at National Press Club in WA, D.C.

September 2007

David Weil was an invited speaker at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. as a part of the Advancing Excellence and Public Trust in Government Symposium, a collaboration between Auburn University, The National Endowment for the Public Trust and the Washington Center. He delivered a talk entitled “Making Transparency Work.”


Policy Brief for Brookings

July 2007

Policy brief was written for the Brookings Institution: "How to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Now," by Mary Graham and Elena Fagotto. Read Brookings Institution Policy Brief #161.

Authors discuss book at Woodrow Wilson Center

May 2007

Fung, Graham, and Weil discussed the central ideas in Full Dislcosure at a book launch/seminar hosted at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. The session was chaired by Dr. Philippa Strum, Director of the Division of United States Studies of the Wilson Center. Professor Alasdair Roberts of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, provided commentary. Listen here.


Weil discusses Full Disclosure

May 2007

Weil appeared on the Sam Litzinger Show on WTWP (Washington, D.C.) to discuss Full Disclosure. Listen

Graham discusses Full Disclosure on PBS NewsHour

May 2007

Discussion about transparency and Full Disclosure between Mary Graham and Jeffrey Brown on the PBS show The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Both audio and video here. For a full-frame version of the video (larger image) go here. (Note that you will need Apple Quicktime to view this version, available here if you don't have it.)  


Full Disclosure review on San Francisco Chronicle

April 2007

The San Francisco Chronicle reviewed Full Disclosure. Read it here.

Full Disclosure panel discussion

April 2007

A panel discussion with the three Full Disclosure authors was held at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University's Kennedy School.    


Boston Globe article

April 2007

Weil and Fung's Op-Ed piece, "Fixing the Misinformation Age," appeared in the Boston Globe. Read it here. 


Compliance Week uses Full Disclosure reference

April 2007

Compliance Week, a weekly newsletter on corporate governance, risk and compliance, made an excerpt from Full Disclosure (printed in the March 13 issue of the publication) available to the public on this page.


Online discussion at

March 2007

Fung and Weil participated in an online discussion about Full Disclosure and the issues raised in the book on the website. For a transcript, visit this page.

Weil appears on Thom Hartman

March 2007

Weil appeared on the nationally syndicated Thom Hartmann show on Air America, discussing the need for greater transparency in government and Full Disclosure. Listen here.