No transparency organization today can or should get away with simply saying that their job is to put the data, information out there, and others will do the rest.
I don’t mean that every transparency organization should be responsible for the whole chain – from getting the data out, to ensuring its use, to ensuring its impact. But I do think that organizations should be cognizant and conscious of the broader ecosystem that they operate in, and seek out partnerships/advisory roles across that ecosystem.
IE transparency organizations whose job it is to get open data out there on foreign aid, or to advocate for a data standard on budget information, or indeed to advocate for stronger right to information laws etc. should plug in to the broader ecosystem they are part of. For example they could:
– Publish and be clear about how they see change happening as a result of the data/information they will ‘liberate’.
– Map the different steps through which that change may happen, and be explicit about where they see their own organization fitting
– This is the key bit I think – link up with other organizations that themselves are responsible for the other steps in the chain, and explore possible partnerships, seats on advisory boards, how to help them achieve their goals (but without necessarily deviating from their own core mission)
Simple but hugely helpful for the field.
PS – thank you to Sunlight Foundation’s Tom Lee for pointing out that transparency also works by forestalling bad action, which is hard to second guess and/or measure. http://www.manifestdensity.net/2013/01/18/how-transparency-works/#more