Even though transparency is not a new phenomenon, especially related to state politics, it is worth noting that this term is also related to the local government. Different cities across the globe and the United States as well implement the concept of transparency on the governmental level by making different reports and data public. It should be stressed that transparency is beneficial for people to be aware of the things that are going on in their local communities.
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The possibility to get information contributes to the establishment of the relationships between the government and residents based on trust. Moreover, it improves the dialogue between them significantly. The experts who support transparency highlight that it improves the dialogue between the government and citizens, proving that it is essential for implementation.
First and foremost, it should be pointed out that transparency contributes to making better governmental decisions and choices. Also, it saves the government time as the information should not be hidden and is open to the public. The officials receive an opportunity to work on the urgent issues and not center on the ones that happened in the past and should be explained. However, it is of paramount importance to highlight that transparency is not always beneficial, especially when we take into consideration the fact that it demands investments and efforts from the officials. Several cities claim that the IT department finds it complicated to provide online access to all the reports and data to the public (Levy, Hamilton, & Bowles, 2014).
The fundamental problem that is associated with governmental transparency is the fact that getting information, the majority of people is not satisfied with it and demand more and more. This point is very controversial. On the one hand, it creates difficulties and challenges; however, on the other hand, an informed community contributes to better decisions (Bair, Dickson, & Miller, 2013). Due to the transparency, everyone gets a possibility to get deeper involved in the issues of politics and vote more reasonably, being aware of the real picture.
California aims to find new ways to increase transparency. In the process of finding possible solutions to this issue, the government of California concluded that to reach this goal, two initiatives should be taken into consideration, namely the following ones:
- Ballot initiative;
The experts state that these two options will improve transparency and reduce the number of backroom deals. However, transparency is a multi-faceted concept. In March 2016, the executive director of the California Coastal Commission was fired and the public “blame the behind-the-scene influence of developers” (Bradford, 2016, par. 2). The State Senator noted that the bill is needed and stated that “the public is entitled to know what decisions are being made and why they’re being made and to have input in those decisions” (Bradford, 2016, par. 3). The bill is considered to be classical and is directed to the improvement of transparency in California. Compromise is a guiding power of the State Senator, Hannah-Beth Jackson.
In March 2016, California officials pointed out some technological and bureaucratic difficulties regarding the implementation of digital transparency (Shueh, 2016). Not all the efforts are successful. The past intentions to make the state information open to the public influenced the way it is implemented now. It is worth noting that the question should be examined with the close consideration of three fundamental dimensions, namely the following ones:
- Cultural changes (Shueh, 2016).
These aspects influence the way the governmental structure is modernized. The financial aspect is essential to take into account. Digital transparency demands investments to support IT development and initiatives. This is the first constraint. The treasure for technology and innovation, Jan Ross claimed that the administration of John Chiang has already implemented a variety of projects that were related to the ability to get information regarding the state salaries, the budget of different cities, and, also, another important point, school taxes (Lin, 2014). Every stated above project was supported by financial help from the Controller’s Office, not the state. Jan Ross highlighted:
What is challenging is trying to convince any of the legislators at the capitol that there should be funding for this. It’s very difficult to quantify the return on investment for a more engaged citizenry, or a more informed citizenry (Shueh, 2016).
The majority of officials face a significant problem. Although they support transparency, they do not have enough money to invest in the project, and thus, they redirect funds. The only solution is the reduction of the workload and implementation of financial oversight (Lathrop & Ruma, 2010).
As for the culture change, it is worth stating that some people are sure that transparency will consequently lead to technocratic changes. However, not so many people explain this definition. The transparency is an essential element in a dialogue between the citizens and the state, and that is, is vital for implementation (Erkkila, 2012). Furthermore, it positively affects not only the politics of the state, however, the decisions made by different companies as they are supposed to inform the public concerning their decisions, and thus, they are controlled.
Another obstacle towards transparency is considered to be infrastructure. Brian Maienschein gathered data concerning homeless people from 2000 till 2008 in San Diego. It should be stressed that he cooperated with forty different agencies that support and help homeless people (Piotrowski, 2010). The conclusion that he drew from this work was impressive. The information was not structured, and there was no standard for organizing the data.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development noted that the study of Brian Maienschein was the most informative and comprehensive of all the researches on homeless made across the country. It proves that there is no system in some data, the agencies should implement one standard and follow it. The problem of infrastructure is urgent for transparency creation. The IT sphere should put a lot of effort into organized unstructured data (Marquardt, 2011).
In 2010, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act was established; however, almost ninety companies refused to make reports, for example, the world-famous brand Guess (Singer, 2014). The act aimed to fight against human trafficking. Although the progress was evident and several companies made their information public, it is worth pointing out that a lot of enterprises do not support such initiatives. Understandably, businesses are looking to make more profit; however, everyone should address the issue of global slavery. The transparency law and the acceptance of it is one step towards this goal.
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The efforts concerning the fight against human exploitation did not stop in 2010. In 2016, people in California expect to see a low index of human trafficking due to the improvement of transparency (Todres, 2015). However, is there any relation between transparency and global slavery? According to the California Supply Chain Act of 2012, the companies should make the information public regarding the decisions they make, and, also, they should report concerning human trafficking is such a phenomenon takes place (Todres, 2015). All the companies should consider this law; however, those corporations that have over a hundred million dollars in their revenue receive the primary concern in particular.
The reason for the creation of such a law is evident. It is worth making an accent that the private sector should play a central role in the prevention of modern slavery. The organizations are not forced to change their politics; they should simply be transparent and report regarding their decisions. The government of California influences the customers’ behavior as they would think about whether to buy the product of the company or not.
The reports are directed not only to show that the company does not support human trafficking but to find new ways how to fight modern slavery as well. The transparency might become a motivation for some enterprises to collaborate to put an end to human trafficking (Todres, 2015). The exploitation of human beings is a significant problem that society is still facing. The fundamental purpose of the law is to provide people with an opportunity to make choices based on the information.
In conclusion, it should be stated that the modern world is characterized by constant issues in the sphere of management and control of the state bodies. The reason for such problems is commonly seen in the antitrust between the population and the bodies that ensure control. To solve this problem, the most effective mechanism is to establish communication between the state and population-based on trust, understanding, and respect. Partnership and cooperation create an atmosphere where every member aims not only to reach a personal goal, however, takes into consideration the interests of the other party.
The ability to unite two, sometimes even polar points of view provides an effective and longstanding union. To put such plans into life, constant feedback is essential. In practice, such a relationship is possible due to the initiatives of the government institutes to transparency, publicity, and the ability to have access to as much information as possible. Transparency can be explained as the ability of every member of the society or groups to get information regarding different governmental processes.
The possibility to observe governmental changes and decisions and discuss these processes freely without the involvement from the state is an especially significant factor for the creation of transparency. California aims to improve transparency and creates different laws to make not only the government open to the public but different companies as well. The transparency influences the politics and life of people positively as it provides citizens with relevant information for decision making and contributes to the increasing of the responsibility during the process of voting.
Bair, J., Dickson, M., & Miller, D. (2013). Workers’ rights and labor compliance in global supply chains. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis.
Bradford, B. (2016). Proposed California measures seek to increase government transparency. Web.
Erkkila, T. (2012). Government transparency: Impacts and unintended consequences. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lathrop, D., & Ruma, L. (2010). Open government:. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly.
Levy, D., Hamilton, J., & Bowles, N. (2014). Transparency in politics and the media: Accountability and open government. New York, NY: I. B. Tauris & Company, Limited.
Lin, J. (2014). California’s public payroll database falls short on transparency. Web.
Marquardt, J. (2011). Transparency and American primacy in world politics. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.
Piotrowski, S. (2010). Transparency and secrecy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Shueh, J. (2016). Top 3 roadblocks to data transparency in california. Web.
Singer, P. (2014). Cybersecurity and cyberwar: What everyone needs to know? New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Todres, J. (2015). Why California transparency law isn’t so transparent. Web.