How best can countries achieve public sector transparency? Achieving public sector transparency has always been a goal of enormous complexity. It includes institution building, introducing (and maintaining) good practices and proper processes, overcoming political challenges, technological limitations and financial constraints. A Development Gateway survey asked its users: How best can developing nations achieve public sector transparency? Here is what they had to say. Jeffrey Tshabalala Accountability and transparency are reflections of the maturity of the political management cycle. Where this cycle has compromised the result is the weakening of the rule of law and the general practice of democratic tenets. This then defines the boundaries of accountability and transparency in the developing nations. I have deliberately used accountability here because I see a symbiotic relationship between it and transparency. Where there is an entrenched culture of accountability in the political business cycle, it is likely to trigger the development of systems, strategies and regulations in the Public Sector that anchor transparency. It is imperative that issues of macro-political accountability are dealt with so that an environment is created where the culture of transparency can grow. There can be no half measures here! Radhakrishnan Puthenveetil In developing nations the public sector alone cannot be singled out with the expectation of achieving transparency. First of all there should be transparency in the nature of governance. This involves the executive, judiciary, the legislature, and the bureaucracy. Lack of transparency occurs for various reasons such as corruption, which cannot exist with transparency; the right to information, which does not exist in most developing nations; and legal literacy, which also does not exist in most developing nations. In the ultimate analysis, however, one has to be more sharply focused when using the term public sector. In developing nations like India where the State itself is a Leviathan, what can one think of in the term public sector? Even if one can figure out the meaning, the extent to which a transparent public sector can be visible and accountable to the public is a moot issue. Vicente Mariano Public sector transparency can initially be achieved in the requisition and purchase of goods and services by providing timetables and comparative prices through the web. Through posted time tables, everyone can see what is involved with corresponding costs. If the internet is not that accessible in a developing nation, other communication options are available. Newspapers can publish a section on government requirements, prices of goods and services, procedures for biddings. Radios can broadcast weekly programs which cover projects, purchases of goods and services. Public bulletin boards can be placed in public libraries, government offices, and banks. Strengthening of government auditing offices must also be carried out, including independence from the agencies that are being audited. If the government auditing office relies on local government for office space, supplies and materials, they cannot really be effective auditors of these local government units. The selection of good men and women is the core of competent, idealistic and honest public servants who will support the transparency requirements of the public sector. The longer a public servant is rendering service, the more difficult it is to be transparent. Older public servants may have developed a system of preventing transparency for one reason or the other at the expense of the public whom they are supposed to serve. Regular monitoring of the lifestyles of public servants may identify exceptional cases where people personally benefit from the lack of transparency. Doug Yeager What better way than to lead by example? If NGOs and funding partners practice transparency, then it will become a de facto standard. If NGOs and funding partners establish objectives for projects and openly evaluate themselves based upon those objectives, the habit of accountability will spread to the public sector. Aleksandr Shkolnikov There is no "one size fits all" solution to improving transparency. At the end of the day, it is local solutions to local problems that will make a difference. Developing countries will have to design their own solutions to their own problems, as they can't simply copy the institutional design of others. However, at the core of solving the problem of transparency there are three factors: institutions, political will, and private sector participation. An institutional approach is crucial because countries need to fix the underlying deficiencies in the system weak institutions that threaten transparency and accountability. Political will and leadership is a must because without it even the most well-intentioned solutions are bound to vanish within bureaucratic hurdles. And, finally, private sector participation brings crucial input and grassroots solutions from the side of the equation that directly suffers from a lack of public sector transparency. Teobaldo Pinzas We must think of public sector transparency (PST) as a goal to be reached over a period of time. Keeping this in mind, adequate norms have to be put into place, so that both authorities and citizens are progressively made aware of the need and the importance of PST. Public opinion has to be formed, shedding light on the importance of PST for a more efficient state intervention and therefore a better use of society's resources, for a reduction in corruption, for an increased participation of civil society in the running of the public affairs, in short, for democracy. Most likely, what is needed is an effort from the organizations of civil society and the means of communication, so that the need for PST is pressed on as an issue of utmost national importance. Together with them, there is a role for multilaterals which are in fact placing this issue on the agenda. Mizanur Jewel Public sector transparency can best be achieved through the participation of people from all walks of life. In developing countries, common people play a key role in the overall development of the country. This is why their spontaneous participation is inevitable in ensuring public sector transparency. Amera Salman Yunus Empowering the public is the key to success in this regard. When developing nations can make universal education a true reality, then they will achieve public sector transparency. The general public will then be able to safeguard not only their rights, but they will also be able fulfill their role as responsible citizens. James Wertheimer The public sector can be controlled by having a politically independent sector of government, for example, executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. In addition, civil society must be involved and have access to information. How much can civic groups be involved? Finding the adequate formula has been the missing link for many underdeveloped countries. James Lumbuye By developing their own indigenous checklists for performance and allowing themselves to be scrutinized both internally and internationally against these. Elena Chirkova For me transparency is primarily about information control and then about the ways to achieve it. Who is accountable to whom the government and public officials to the public or the government to itself and ultimately to no one. The first option requires independent media, independent judiciary and active, powerful civil society. Transparency comes hand in hand with accountability and is inseparable from it with regard to true public sector reform regardless of whether it is conducted in a developed or a developing country.