Transparency is the principle of allowing those affected by administrative decisions to know about results and about the process that led to decisions. Transparent governance means that government officials act openly, with citizens’ knowledge of the decisions the officials are making.
Excessive secrecy can undermine the quality of public decision-making and prevent citizens from checking the abuses of public power.
This can have a corrosive effect on virtually all aspects of society and governance. Transparency in terms of both information disclosure and dissemination and access to decision-making is therefore very important as it better enables civil society to hold government and or key decision-makers to account, promote good governance, improve public policy and efficiency and combat corruption.
Information by itself is not power, but it is an essential first step in the exercise of political and economic power. The public is only able to truly participate in the democratic process when they have information about the activities and policies of government, and when people can see what benefits and services they are entitled to and whether they are receiving what should be expected. Knowledge of what the state and other institutions do is fundamental to the power of people to hold them to account and improve the way in which they work.
Absence of, or inaccessibility to, information often creates a sense of disempowerment, mistrust and frustration. On the other hand, access to relevant, up-to-date information can create a basis for natural exchange, allowing both official and the public to better access decisions taken and policies implemented.