What factors influence transparency in US local government?

Grichawat Lowatcharin and Charles Menifield at LSE Impact Blog: “The Internet has opened a new arena for interaction between governments and citizens, as it not only provides more efficient and cooperative ways of interacting, but also more efficient service delivery, and more efficient transaction activities. …But to what extent does increased Internet access lead to higher levels of government transparency? …While we found Internet access to be a significant predictor of Internet-enabled transparency in our simplest model, this finding did not hold true in our most extensive model. This does not negate that fact that the variable is an important factor in assessing transparency levels and Internet access. …. Our data shows that total land area, population density, percentage of minority, education attainment, and the council-manager form of government are statistically significant predictors of Internet-enabled transparency.  These findings both confirm and negate the findings of previous researchers. For example, while the effect of education on transparency appears to be the most consistent finding in previous research, we also noted that the rural/urban (population density) dichotomy and the education variable are important factors in assessing transparency levels. Hence, as governments create strategic plans that include growth models, they should not only consider the budgetary ramifications of growth, but also the fact that educated residents want more web based interaction with government. This finding was reinforced by a recent Census Bureau report indicating that some of the cities and counties in Florida and California had population increases greater than ten thousand persons per month during the period 2013-2014.

This article is based on the paper ‘Determinants of Internet-enabled Transparency at the Local Level: A Study of Midwestern County Web Sites’, in State and Local Government Review. (More)”