transparency [English]

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Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ (The condition of) timely disclosure of information about an individual's or organization's activities and decisions, especially to support accountability to all stakeholders.

General Notes

Beyond its basic sense of "allowing light to pass" and "the ability to see through," Louis Brandeis anticipated the modern sense of transparency when he said, "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman" (Brandeis, 2014, 92). In government, transparency assures that citizens have the information they need to hold officials accountable. Similarly, in computing, transparency allows users the ability to ensure that services perform as promised.

Other Definitions

  • Black's 9th 2009 (†382 s.v. transparency): Openness; clarity; lack of guile and attempts to hide damaging information. The word is used of financial disclosures, organizational policies and practices, lawmaking, and other activities where organizations interaction with the public.
  • Gartner IT Glossary (†298 s.v. "transparency"): Transparency is a condition where the material facts of an enterprise are made available in a timely, and preferably reusable, manner. · Material facts encompass reliable information critical to the decision making of both internal and external stakeholders. · The object of transparency is the enterprise (not an individual). · Reusability allows consumers of information to construct their own analyses without compromising the contextual meaning of the material facts.


  • [UK] Minister of State 2012 (†663 p. 11): Transparency is already radically changing the way people live their lives and run their businesses in the UK. In the last two years, the UK has released the largest amount of government data of any country in the world, enabling people to make better choices about the public services they use and to hold government to account on spending and outcomes. Transparency is also providing the raw material for innovative new business ventures and for public service professionals to improve their performance. (†1524)
  • Anciaux-Duclert 2013 (†665 ): The open-data movement shares some of its objectives with the FOIA and the PSI, for it is based "on principles of accountability and transparency on the one hand and innovation and economic growth on the other hand." (Quoting K. Janssen, "The Influence of the PSI directive . . . ," Government Information Quarterly, 28:4. (†1523)
  • Brandeis 1914 (†661 p. 92): Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. (†1510)
  • EU Glossary (†300 ): Transparency is linked to the citizens' demands for wider access to information and documents, as well as for greater involvement in the decision-making process, which would help foster a feeling of closeness to the Union. (†274)
  • GAO 2011 (†538 p. 1): Audits provide essential accountability and transparency over government programs. Given the current challenges facing governments and their programs, the oversight provided through auditing is more critical than ever. Government auditing provides objective analysis and information needed to make the decisions necessary to help create a better future. (†878)
  • GAO 2011 (†538 p. 11): In the government environment, the public’s right to the transparency of government information has to be balanced with the proper use of that information. In addition, many government programs are subject to laws and regulations dealing with the disclosure of information. (†879)
  • Horizon 2020 2013 (†397 49): [Open Government] Transparency is an important element of the open government approach. Open data and information lead to more transparency. Openness and technology tools can also enable monitoring of the public sector and its performance. Transparency helps to increase accountability and trust in administrations. (†440)
  • ISACA Glossary (†743 s.v. transparency): Refers to an enterprise’s openness about its activities and is based on the following concepts: ‐ How the mechanism functions is clear to those who are affected by or want to challenge governance decisions. ‐ A common vocabulary has been established. ‐ Relevant information is readily available. Transparency and stakeholder trust are directly related; the more transparency in the governance process, the more confidence in the governance. (†1807)
  • Kurian 2013 (†576 s.v. transparency): In business, the quality of being open about goals and methods and sharing positive as well as negative developments, as well as in compliance with legal and moral requirements. (†1080)
  • Law 2011 (†581 s.v. transparency): The condition in which nothing is hidden. This is an essential condition for a free market in securities. Prices, the volume of trading, and factual information must be available to all. (†1115)
  • Obama 2009 (†510 ): Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. (†1508)
  • Open Government Standards (†660 s.v. "The Standards"): Transparency means that information about the activities of public bodies is created and is available to the public, with limited exceptions, in a timely manner, in open data formats and without restrictions on reuse. Transparency mechanisms must include the disclosure of information in response to requests from the public and proactive publication by public bodies. Key information about private bodies should be available either directly or via public bodies. (†1509)
  • Reidenberg, et al. 2013 (†364 ): Recommendation for Transparency: The existence and identity of cloud service providers and the privacy protections for student data should be available on [K-12 school] district websites, and districts must provide notice to parents of these services and the types of student information that is transferred to third parties. (†363)
  • Yeluri and Castro-Leon 2014 (†659 p.11): Specific to security, operational transparency means it can be used as a building block for auditable IT processes, an essential security requirement. (†1503)
  • Yeluri and Castro-Leon 2014 (†659 p.21): Implementing a level of transparency at the lowest layers of the cloud, through the development of standards, instrumentation, tools, and linkages to monitor and prove that the IaaS cloud’s physical and virtual servers are actually performing as they should be and that they meet defined security criteria. The expectation is that the security of a cloud service should match or exceed the equivalent in house capabilities before it can be considered an appropriate replacement. (†1504)
  • Yeo 2013 (†380 5): In a blog post in 2009, Weinberger claimed that ‘transparency is the new objectivity’. More specifically, he argued that the role in ‘the ecology of knowledge’ once served by the unattainable goal of objectivity is now served by transparency. Transparency, he said, allows us to see how a resource was formed. It prospers in a linked medium such as the Internet because links let us see the connections between a resource and the ideas and values that informed it, and this in turn gives grounds for trust; it gives us reasons to have confidence in Internet resources in the way that claims about objectivity once did for paper materials. ‘What we used to believe because we thought [an] author was objective’, Weinberger affirmed, ‘we now believe because we can see . . . the sources that brought her to that position’. (Yeo, citing: Weinberger, “Transparency is the New Objectivity.”) (†407)