Transparency International Poll: The World Is Getting More Corrupt

December 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

As if it wasn’t bad enough that a souring world economy has people all over the world already abuzz, a new poll finds that most people believe the world is more corrupt than it was three years ago:

Some 56% of people interviewed by Transparency International said their country had become more corrupt.

And there’s finally a bit of good news for the United States: it is not ranked in the very top category:

The organisation put Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq and India in the most corrupt category, followed by China, Russia and much of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, a BBC poll suggests that corruption is the world’s most talked about problem.

About one in five of those polled by the BBC said they had discussed issues relating to corruption with others in the last month, making it the most talked about concern ahead of climate change, poverty, unemployment and rising food and energy costs.

And what do people consider the most corrupt institution? American independent voters will appreciate this finding (although the modus operendi may be a bit different depending on the country):

In the Transparency International survey, political parties were regarded as the most corrupt institutions, and 50% of people believed their government was ineffective at tackling the problem.

One in four of those polled said they had paid a bribe in the past year – the police being the most common recipient.

Some 29% of bribes went to the police, 20% to registry and permit officials, and 14% to members of the judiciary.

Political parties have long been regarded as the most corrupt institutions – they topped the list in Transparency’s 2004 barometer with 71%. In this year’s report, 80% regarded them as corrupt.

And religious institutions? They may wish to do some prayers about their images, too:

Religious bodies experienced a sharp rise in people regarding them as corrupt – 28% in 2004 increased to 53% by 2010.

According to the BBC, the people who reported the most corruption in their daily lives are from Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq and India. Roughly half of those reported having to pay a bribe the past year.

While people from Cambodia (84%) and Liberia (89%) were the most likely to have to pay a bribe, the Danish reported 0% bribery.

Robin Hodess, Transparency’s policy and research director, expressed particular concern at the figures on bribery.

“Unfortunately people’s experience with bribery most often involves the police, and this is really worrying,” he said.

Reuters frames the poll this way:

The public’s faith in political parties has been sharply eroded during the financial crisis, with four out of five people saying they are corrupt or very corrupt, a survey showed Thursday.

The 2010 Global Corruption Barometer by Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International (TI) showed that 79 percent of respondents in a global study believed parties were “corrupt or extremely corrupt,” up from 69 percent in 2009.

TI said the sample of countries used was slightly larger in 2010, and that if a comparison was made between 65 nations polled in both years, the increase was more pronounced — 82 percent saw parties as corrupt in 2010, up from 68 percent last year.

“The fall-out of the financial crises continues to affect people’s opinions of corruption, particularly in Europe and North America,” TI chairwoman Huguette Labelle said.

“Institutions everywhere must be resolute in their efforts to restore good governance and trust,” she added.

Israel’s Jerusalem Post says this:

Transparency International – Israel released a poll on Thursday, which showed that Israelis think that political parties are the most corrupt institution in the country.

Nearly 90 percent of Israelis said that parties were corrupt, giving them a score of 4.5 out of five possible corruption points. The Knesset was ranked as the second-most corrupt institution, with a score of four. The IDF was in last place, with 2.6 out of five points.

The Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation offers this:

At least 92% of Kenyans perceive the police force as the most corrupt institution.

This is according to the 2010 Global Corruption Barometer Report, a worldwide public opinion survey on corruption, released Thursday by Transparency International on the International Anti Corruption Day.

In 2010 the Global Corruption Barometer covered 86 countries and territories polling 91,781 individuals between 1st June and 30th September 2010 with a margin of error of between 2.18% and 4.40% per country.

The survey had a nationwide sample of 1,000 people in Kenya and was conducted between 1st and 10th July 2010.

The Barometer explores the general public’s views about corruption levels in their country and their government efforts to fight corruption.

The 2010 Barometer also probes the frequency of bribery, reasons for paying a bribe in the past year, and attitudes towards reporting incidents of corruption.

The Irish Times:

IRISH PEOPLE’S trust in politicians is among the lowest of any country worldwide, according to a survey.

Transparency International’s Irish branch surveyed 1,000 Irish residents between June and September this year. The survey, released today to coincide with International Anti-Corruption Day, found people felt corruption to be on the rise in most public institutions. The perception of corruption in politics and the church was among the highest of the 86 countries surveyed.

In a barometer measuring between 1 and 5, at which 5 is the most corrupt, participants scored Irish political parties at 4.4. Only Greece, Israel, Nigeria and Romania rated their political parties as being more corrupt.

Six out of 10 Irish people felt levels of corruption had risen in the past three years. The public’s trust in the church and the Oireachtas deteriorated most dramatically since the last study was carried out in 2007. However, the perception of corruption in business, the media, NGOs, the education system, the Garda and the military also deteriorated. The only improvement was in relation to the legal system.

More than eight out of 10 people believed the Government was ineffective in tackling the abuse of power while 4 per cent claimed they had paid a bribe in the last year.

Chief executive of Transparency Ireland John Devitt said the findings were not surprising. “If anything, it’s surprising the Irish figures are not worse,” he said.

Radio Free Europe:

The report also found that corruption takes a huge toll on poor people. TI chairwoman Huguette Labelle called it “a regressive tax” and an “injustice [that] must be addressed.”

When it comes to their own government’s efforts against corruption, most citizens reported not being impressed.

The exceptions were in the United States and most NIS countries, where citizens said they believed the government was having an effect against corruption.

Marschall said the group was surprised to learn that political parties are the least-trusted groups in many countries. Some 80 percent of respondents said they believed such organizations are “deeply corrupt.”

Amidst the report’s bad news there is some good news. The survey found a healthy level of outrage over corruption and more people than ever said they would be willing to stand up and report incidents of corruption to authorities.

“More people are now ready to fight against corruption. More people believe that, actually, he or she can make a difference,” Marschall said. “Seventy percent of all our respondents told us that they are ready now to report on corruption if they come across such a case, so that is definitely good news.”

However, that number drops in half if the person is a victim of corruption.

The copyrighted cartoon by Angel Boligan, Cagle Cartoons, El Universal, Mexico City, is licensed to run on TMV. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. All rights reserved.

The Moderate Voice

This Is Earmark Transparency

December 7, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

By Jim Harper

This morning, a database of FY 2011 earmark requests was released by Taxpayers Against Earmarks, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and my own With House Republicans generally eschewing earmarks this year, members of Congress and senators still sought over 39,000 earmarks, valued at over $ 130 billion dollars. Learn more on the relevant pages at Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Against Earmarks, and

This is transparency. The production of organized, machine-readable data has allowed these differing groups—an advocacy organization, a spending analysis group, and a “Web 2.0″ transparency site—to expand the discussion about earmarks. The data is available to any group, to the press, and to political scientists and researchers.

Earmarking is a questionable practice, and, anticipating public scrutiny, House and Senate Republicans have determined to eschew earmarks for the time being. But the earmark requests in this database are still very much “live.” They could be approved in whatever spending legislation Congress passes for the 2011 fiscal year. They also tell us how our representatives acted before they got careful about earmarks.

Earmarks are a small corner of the federal policy process, of course, but when all legislation, budgeting, spending, and regulation has become more transparent—truly transparent, Senator Durbin—the public’s oversight of Congress will be much, much better. As I noted at our December 2008 conference, “Just Give Us the Data,” progressives believe that it would validate government programs and root out corruption. (That’s fine—corruption and ongoing failure in federal programs are not preferable.) I believe that demand for government will drop. The average American family pays about $ 100 per day for the operation of the federal government currently. That’s a lot.

Again, you can see how this data is in use, and you can use it yourself, by visiting Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Against Earmarks, and On the latter site, you can see a map of earmarks in your state and lists of earmarks by member of Congress and representative, then vote and comment on individual earmarks.

At considerable expense and effort, these sites have done what President Obama asked Congress to do in January. If earmarking is to continue, Congress could produce earmark data as a matter of course itself: The appropriations committees could take earmark requests online and immediately publish them, rather than using the opaque exchange of letters, phone calls, and—who knows—homing pigeons.

Congress should modernize and make itself more transparent. We’re showing the way.

This Is Earmark Transparency is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog

Cato @ Liberty

Transparency international or the Red Brigades

December 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

The reporting on Wikileaks and Julian Assange has been getting better, I think, as his leak festival has unfolded, with an initial lack of interest in his motives giving way to a an idealized view of him as an extremely coherent new kind of revolutionary — idealized or demonized depending on your politics — and now, in a very smart piece from Evgeny Morozov in the FT, to something in between:

"Mr Assange is more of a college sophomore still undecided about his major, than a man with a plan," suggesting that the real U.S. decision right now is on the future of the loose congress of hackers around him and his organization, "a choice between WikiLeaks becoming a new Red Brigades, or a new Transparency International."

Morozov also tweeted yesterday a link to a 1997 book "Underground," a narrative history of ’90s hackers and cops for which Assange was both a character and the "researcher." The book is a pretty good read, and a glimpse at a culture where ideology is really a function of the activity — a obsessive game of breaking through barriers and digging out information. A sample:

Like most hackers, The Parmaster didn’t just want the secret, he needed it. He was in that peculiar state attained by real hackers where they will do just about anything to obtain a certain piece of information. He was obsessed….That’s how it worked with real hackers. They didn’t just fancy a titbit here and there. Once they knew information about a particular system was available, that there was a hidden entrance, they chased it down relentlessly.


It’s possible to read Assange through some essays — the interpretation passed around a lot last week is here – as an anarchist with a plan to destroy all government by making it impossible to have secrets, and that’s clearly an aspect of what’s going on here. But Morozov’s suggestion is not entirely to by into Wikileaks’ vision of itself.

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Ben Smith’s Blog

Transparency and College Choice

December 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Bridget Terry Long, a professor of education and economics at Harvard, argues that we should give prospective college students and their families better information on such matters as loan burdens, graduation rates, average class size, average aid package,  salaries earned and positions held by recent graduates, and alumni satisfaction.

This surfeit of information can end up overwhelming rather than enlightening students who — particularly if they come from low-income backgrounds and are first-generation college-goers — are some of the least equipped to navigate the complex choices facing them, she says. As a result, these students can find themselves selecting a college that is too expensive and cannot deliver on its promises. “When things are complicated, people often make erratic decisions or the easiest decisions, which might not be the best decisions,” said Long. In her paper, she cites a 2009 study by Public Agenda and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that suggested that two-thirds of college dropouts chose a college on the basis of location.

During Wednesday’s call, Long offered an example of how she hoped her proposal would help vulnerable and poorly informed future students. She said such a student might be inclined to attend a nearby institution that floods the airwaves and plasters local billboards with advertisements with lofty promises, but has a 10 percent graduation rate. Another institution a half-mile away that boasts a rate of 80 percent would be a better choice, she said. At the same time, Long stresses in her paper that she is not singling out for-profit institutions, some of which have come under fire for the sorts of practices she described during the phone call. “This proposal is not targeted at any subset of educational institutions,” she writes. “Competition and increased public scrutiny is likely to increase outcomes across all institutions by putting pressure on poor institutions to do a better job.”

Long proposes that the federal government, which already collects many of the data, is best suited to function as a clearinghouse for the information she wants made available. It would enact what she envisions as a three-step process. The first would hook potential students — in partnership with other government agencies, and social service and employment organizations — with a snapshot of colleges, their true cost, and the success of their students. The second step would provide a more extensive array of information and include a list of colleges that meet various criteria. The third would allow students to customize their search even further to help make a decision.

I haven’t seen her study and have no idea what all this would cost, let alone whether it would achieve its intended goals.  But I can testify that I had no idea what I was doing when I was making college choices a quarter century ago, and was heavily influenced by geographic proximity and cost.

Outside the Beltway

More on WikiLeaks: Can Transparency be Harmful for Policy-Making and Governance?

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In response to my earlier post on the latest WikiLeaks developmen, Monkey Cage reader and UCSD professor Eddy Malesky sent me the following email:

There is a great 2005 piece by Andrea Prat in the American Economic Review (ungated overview; gated) about when transparency can be harmful for policy-making and governance. Her bottom line is that transparency can be damaging when the agents understand the connection between behavior and outcomes better than the principal. In those cases, transparency will lead to conformist behavior on the part of the agent when information is revealed in the course of the policy-making process.

In a recent paper on legislative transparency, we saw some behavior that seems to fit the Pratt Model. I wonder if WikiLeaks will have the same impact on diplomats and ultimately undermine successful foreign policy.

One nice feature of the Pratt article is that it opens by illustrating how the question of transparency in principal-agent relations is common to both politics (states and citizens) and economics (corporations and share holders). This is in turn led me to wonder whether it is inevitable that we’ll eventually see some sort of WikiLeaks phenomenon surrounding economic data as well. As I mentioned previously, the leading of diplomatic cables has made it much less clear what it is WikiLeaks is trying to accomplish (other than demonstrate it can publish classified information), so I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility that WikiLeaks itself could move towards publishing corporate data. But even if WikiLeaks itself doesn’t, I’m guessing some “Corporate WikiLeaks” type site is likely to come along as well.

The Monkey Cage

New Hawaii Government Transparency Website Debuts

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

-By Warner Todd Huston

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is starting a new effort to spotlight wasteful government spending in the Aloha State and one of the central parts of this program is a new website that the group promises will, “revolutionize government accountability in Hawaii by revealing waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars at the state and local level.”

The new site can be seen at

The site, that was unveiled to the public Nov. 30th, exposes line item details for more than $ 12 billion in state spending and transfers since 2008. GRIH filed hundreds of open records requests to procure spending data from nearly every state agency, and has placed it online in an easily searchable database, for free use by interested citizens.

Not only will taxpayers be able to investigate how their tax dollars are being spent, but they will also be able to report questionable spending using “Pork Alerts” and strategize with other users in the site’s discussion forum. The site exposes spending such as the following:

  • $ 2,675 in dry cleaning bills
  • $ 780 for limousine services
  • Hundreds of thousands to Waikiki hotels
  • Nearly $ 60,000 to one company for office leasing
  • $ 120,000 to an individual artist
  • $ 218 to a home video store

The Grassroot Institute also released its 2010 Pork Report in March. The Pork Report revealed $ 300 million in [spending] was, abuse, and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars in Hawaii.

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is an independent, non-partisan think tank based in Honolulu. The Institute’s mission is to achieve a freer and more prosperous Hawaii through the principles of free markets, individual liberty and limited, more accountable government. Follow Grasroot Institute on Twitter and Facebook.

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Stop The ACLU

WikiLeaks: On Balance, Transparency Trumps Secrecy

November 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

But what struck us, and reassured us, about the latest trove of classified documents released by WikiLeaks was the absence of any real skullduggery. After years of revelations about the Bush administration’s abuses — including the use of torture and kidnappings — much of the Obama administration’s diplomatic wheeling and dealing is appropriate and, at times, downright skillful. —

Reading about #cablegate, I flashed back to the 1980s, when I had been accepted into a newly-revived Kellogg-funded rural leadership (RULE) program in Pennsylvania.

Young and idealistic, as well as moderately familiar with politics and policy, I was shocked — shocked I tell you! — during our orientation weekend role-play. That’s because I had come full face with the realization that public meetings are, in the main, window dressing. Decisions are made not necessarily on the “best” information but on who is friends with who (access) and back-scratching (quid pro quo). Minds are made up in halls, coffee shops, bars and restaurants. The public meeting is where decisions are made public, not where individual decisions are made.

In that orientation weekend, our days were divided between learning sessions and role-play time. The issue before our community was fluoridation of water. Each person was assigned a role and a position; some people were allowed to deviate. The process was, for an idealist, a disillusionment.

The Wikileaks cable trove leads to a similar reaction.

First, in global diplomacy there is a lot of maneuvering behind closed doors. The examples in this New York Time op-ed — Russia and China — are classic. Anyone who has had to persuade more than two people to adopt a common course of action has probably had to resort to similar wrangling.

Second, citizens deserve to know what’s being done in their names, especially when it involves their Treasury (and line of credit). In plain English, we deserve to know what bribes are being offered in our names and the extent of those bribes. Whether that’s the quid pro quo for voting for a piece of domestic legislation (think of North Dakota and the health care bill) or an Afghani official spiriting away $ 50 million in cash, the world — the public interest — is not served by having this information kept secret.

Third, citizens deserve to know when their government is violating international protocol by harvesting biometric data and credit card numbers of global diplomats and government officials. Ditto the “the kidnapping, extraordinary rendition and torture of German national Khaled El-Masri” as well as Bush Administration admonitions to the Germans not to prosecute those CIA agents who picked up the “wrong” man. There is no moral high ground in either of these examples.

Is there a role for secrecy in global diplomacy? Certainly, although the more narrow that role the better for society in general. Analysis of this first release shows that secrecy is being used to hide misdeeds — something that is toxic to civil society and representative democracy.

And, as any teenage female can tell you, the more people who “know” a secret the less likely it will remain secret: it’s another riff on the power law. But our government has decided to expand the number of people who can classify — and access — “secure” documents.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton issued executive order 12958; the order empowered “some 20 officials” with the authority to classify documents as top secret. But it delegated that “authority to 1,336 others, and granted derivative classification authority to some two million government officials and a million industry contractors.”

The result, according to Sen. Patrick Moynihan (1997, Commission for Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy): “Almost everything was declared secret; not everything remained secret, and there were no sanctions for disclosure.”

The situation has not improved in the intervening 13 years. For example, over at the Pentagon, the agency that keeps getting a bye from Congress on conforming to a financial audit: “GAO independently estimated that 87 percent of about 3,500 investigative reports that adjudicators used to make clearance decisions were missing required documentation, and the documentation most often missing was employment verification.”

Finally, the cable trove reveals a country convinced of its imperial role in the world, not unlike that of its mother country a century ago. It’s a role for which we no longer have the purse, assuming that we ever did. The trove reveals that we are a backroom dealer in diplomacy — and everyone knows that we are the world’s largest dealer of armaments — thus making a travesty of the international organization that we helped birth and which is housed on our own soil.

Thus, in the main, I think the Wikileaks cable release will have done more good than harm if we can turn the debate away from recrimination about leakage and to the substantive issues the leaks reveal.

The Moderate Voice

Transparency and Diplomacy

November 29, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

It’s easy to see how an inability to keep secrets can hamper diplomacy. But it’s also worth considering the ways in which the ability to keep secrets can hinder diplomacy. Consider Iran. Suppose Ayatollah Khameini has a spiritual awakening and decides he doesn’t want nuclear weapons. But he thinks that for Iran to sign away its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty would be a national humiliation too far. Why should Iran be treated any differently than Germany or South Korea?

Obviously it would be in the interests of the West to strike a bargain around these terms. But equally obviously, if the Iranian government were to propose these terms there’d immediately be a problem of credibility. The West would insist on credible, verifiable disarmament which is a different thing and might require steps that Iran won’t agree to. In part, inability to strike this bargain is part of the price Iran needs to pay for past bad acts. But in part it’s a price Iran is paying precisely because Iran can keep secrets. If WikiLeaks were constantly publishing Iranian diplomatic cables, it would in some ways be easier to do a bargain. Or on the flipside you sometimes hear that the United States can or should offer “security guarantees” as part of a deal. Actual guarantees from the US should be quite valuable. But talk is cheap. And the fact that we’re able to keep secrets tends to turn our potentially valuable guarantees into cheap talk.

Indeed, as John Ikenberry has written in some ways it’s the degraded secrecy capabilities of democracies that makes it possible for us to collaborate so intensively. One reason the peaceful US/Canadian relationship works is that clearly in practice there’d be no way to mobilize the country for an invasion without it leaking. The fact that there are no such leaks gives the Canadians confidence that we’re not secretly planning to invade, which means they don’t spend their time plotting for an asymmetric war with the United States. And since they’re not doing that, we’re not constantly worried about Canadian terrorist financing and WMD programs and drawing up plans to invade.


Andrew Lansley promises (1) transparency, (2) greater trust of NHS professionals and (3) payment-by-results

November 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


After He Promised Transparency, Ohio Newspapers Blast Kasich’s Refusal To Disclose Records As ‘Outrageous’

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich (R) spent much of his campaign selling the “accountability” and “transparency” buzzwords to Ohio constituents this year. Touting a “new way” of doing politics, Kasich promised to “recharge Ohio” with a smaller, more open government that would require accountability within important sectors – like education – that weren’t up to par. This generic rhetoric, however, sounded enough like a revolution to win him the endorsements of several prominent state newspapers, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Columbus Dispatch, and the conservative Cincinnati Enquirer.

But just weeks after defeating Ohio’s incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland (D), Kasich’s incoming administration is turning on those previously-espoused principles and refusing to release the resumes of the job applicants for politically-appointed state government jobs. While Strickland “regularly” released the records of job applicants for the public, Kasich claims that because the resumes are solicited via — a private site owned by the Kasich-Taylor New Day Committee, Inc. — those who desire to work for him have an expectation of privacy. Pointing out that Kasich won its endorsement based on his stated “bias towards openness,” the once-supportive Cincinnati Enquirer lambasted his rationale as “an outrageous nose-thumbing at well-established principles of openness”:

Mere weeks after defeating incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland, the Kasich team has said it won’t make the names or resumes of applicants for state jobs public – an outrageous nose-thumbing at well-established principles of openness and disclosure of public information.

Within a day of opening his website, Kasich had received more than 1,500 resumes for public jobs via e-mail to the site.

But if he gets his way, the public will never know who applied, what criteria were used in hiring – or who might have been more qualified choices.[…]

If this is “transparency,” we’d hate to see what opacity looks like in a Kasich administration.[…]

Governing is not an exercise in devising mechanisms to shut out the citizens you purport to represent – and for whom you are working.[…]

There may be a legal gray area here regarding the private site. That’s for courts to decide. But you don’t have to be an attorney to understand that well-established precedents toward disclosure are being snubbed – and that the spirit of Ohio’s open records laws is clearly being violated.[…]

You can’t privatize the public’s right to know.

Mr. Kasich, you may not be “worried about transparency,” but we sure are.

Another Ohio paper that endorsed Kasich, the Canton Repository, called Kasich’s transparency tap dance “baloney,” demanding to know “where’s the transparency?” Also noting Strickland’s adherence to disclosure, the Repository pointed out that “not only is Kasich sending the wrong message about his commitment to openness, he’s also not doing himself any favors when it comes to winning support” for his “controversial” idea to privatize the Ohio Department and Development, a plan the Repository accepts if “Kasich keeps his commitment to transparency.” However, as noted by Ohio Attorney General Rob Cordray, Kasich “fails [the] transparency test” there too.

While deeply frustrating to the newspapers who believed his rhetoric, Kasich’s retreat into opacity should not be surprising; its an increasingly popular part of the GOP playbook. This campaign season, Republican candidates maneuvered around public accountability as an electoral strategy — a strategy so successful that House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) included it in a survival guide for freshmen House Republicans, even telling them which Capitol tunnel to take to avoid the press completely. With the GOP leadership prescribing the direct opposite of accountability, Kasich may just be following new orders. During his campaign, Kasich told Ohioans “if you’ve got something you want to know, I’ll tell you.” But as the Enquirer aptly points out, “that was then, this is now.” (HT: Plunderbund)


The Non-Transparent Administration of Transparency … Biden Holds Closed Meeting on Transparency

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Obama, Biden, Pelosi and Reid … they are the gift that keeps on giving. You just can’t make this stuff up.

THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE THE MOST TRANSPARENT ADMINISTRATION EVAH! Yesterday theVice President Joe Biden met with Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. Who is Earl Devaney? He is the individual tapped to monitor the trillion dollar stimulus, the overdue economic recovery to ensure that the taxpayers are kept informed and know all about it. There is just one problem … IT WAS A CLOSED MEETING!

With President Obama out of the country tweaking things in Asia, carefully not bowing this time, and packing away some pista murg and balak papri chat, his trusty sidekick Joe Biden is left to find things to do back home.(snip)

Possibly the most important event of the vice president’s day Tuesday is to meet at 2:15 with Earl Devaney. Everyone knows him as chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board — the top guy monitoring the gazillion-dollar stimulus and the overdue economic recovery, and ensuring that the taxpayers financing same know all about it.

However, no one outside the room will know what goes on in that Biden-Devaney meeting. That’s because the government meeting on government transparency has been closed.

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Scared Monkeys

Joe Biden Had a Transparency Meeting; We’ll Have to Take His Word For It

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

**Written by Doug Powers

Andrew Malcolm at the LA Times reported that Vice President Biden was holding a meeting on Transparency today… behind closed doors, of course.

I checked Sheriff Joe’s schedule on the White House website, and sure enough, the administration transparently confirmed the closed-off transparency meeting:


On Monday the veep was to meet with incoming House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa about the stimulus and transparency. Biden postponed the meeting, making that the most transparent meeting on transparency we’ve seen all year.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Michelle Malkin

Biden’s Opaque Meeting on Transparency

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A unique brand of tone deafness.
American Thinker Blog

Upgrading Trade Transparency

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
style=”float: right; margin-bottom: 1px; margin-left: 1px;”> href=””> class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-43748″ title=”Cargo_Cranes090204″ src=”” alt=”” width=”375″ height=”240″ />

href=””>AFP reported late last week that Sprint Nextel will not consider bids from two Chinese companies for large telecom contracts due to national security concerns expressed to Sprint Nextel by the American government. This is probably the right outcome, but it is the wrong way to achieve that outcome.

One of the Chinese companies, Huawei, has been href=””>much discussed as being closely tied to the People’s Liberation Army. The other, ZTE, is not directly tied to the Chinese military but it certainly has href=””>close links to the Chinese government, operating in a sector required by Beijing to be utterly state-dominated. id=”more-46294″>

As such, it is reasonable that Huawei and ZTE are not allowed to supply equipment to be used in the U.S. on a large scale. However, determination of a national security risk should not be communicated behind closed doors on unstated grounds by seemingly random government actors. Nor should it be communicated by href=”″>letters from groups of U.S. Congressmen and Senators, which are appearing with greater frequency. Such actions push Sprint Nextel and others to drop what can be competitively priced bids due to security restrictions that should not be implemented by private companies.

Instead, determination of a national security risk should be made according to transparent standards, and by a clearly identified government body. The standards should be formulated by the Department of Defense and other relevant agencies and the role of American companies should be only to defer to those standards.

Earlier this year the Senate granted the U.S. military authority to force companies to exclude suppliers considered risky on security grounds. If the agencies in question were to make their guidelines and decision-making open and explicit, this would be a far superior process to the informal one that exists now. But there is an even better option.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is already authorized to review incoming investment for potential national security threats. This creates a more transparent process by identifying one body to make final determinations. The CFIUS mandate does not extend to the supply of critical equipment, merely because such equipment supply from possibly untrustworthy firms was not an issue until recently.

The logical solution in the Sprint Nextel case and others is to authorize the organization with expertise in evaluating investments on national security grounds, CFIUS, to evaluate certain equipment contracts on national security grounds. To ensure that CFIUS reviews do not interfere with American trade, the authorization should be limited to technology contracts of, say, $ 500 million or more. As occurs now, CFIUS would be informed in its decisions by the Department of Defense and other agencies both with regard to approval and with regard to the size and nature of the contracts that require review.

The game for foreign firms in China is usually rigged, and often by href=””>protectionism hidden in vague and conveniently timed national security edicts. The U.S. has the means already in place to uphold our principles of commercial fairness and transparency, without sacrificing national security interests. CFIUS’ mandate should be broadened as soon as possible.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Now for some real transparency

November 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

GOP set to turn over the rocks in the Obama administration and see what they’ve been hiding.
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