Transparency describes the openness of institutions—the degree to which outsiders such as citizens or stockholders can monitor and evaluate the actions of insiders, such as government officials or corporate managers. Transparent institutions better reflect the interests of their stakeholders and are less prone to corruption, incompetence, and other abuses of the public interest. But there is also a place for the opposite of transparency—secrecy—in protecting commercial information, ensuring privacy, and enhancing national security. The challenge is to strike a balance between openness and legitimate secrecy. Achieving the appropriate transparency balance is a vital part of confronting both the familiar problems of development and new challenges of globalization, from the local level to the global level of governance.

IPD’s Transparency Task Force brings together scholars and activists from all regions who are working to improve global understanding of what transparency can accomplish and how it can be increased.