Do we really want to know who funds or funded think tanks and researchers? Do we want to know all about how they get their funding, who they've worked with, or for in the past? In this post, I play devil's advocate and present some arguments against complete transparency. Would it make it impossible for the system to function?
Posts tagged ‘Transparency’
Transparify has just published an excellent report in which it reviews the financial transparency of over 150 think tanks across the world. Inspired by this effort I have rated the group of think tanks funded by the Think Tank Initiative. For no other reasons that it is a fairly clear set, not too small and not too large, and representative of three developing regions. In this blog post I argue that Transparify has opened a door that other should follow.
Over the next few weeks I will be reviewing the transparency of think tanks in different programmes using Transparify's approach. I hope this analysis will contribute to greater openness among think tanks as well as their supporters. This post outlines the approach taken and links to the ratings themselves.
Looking at Brookings to argue that we can learn from think tank budgets, and that think tanks should be transparent about their funding.
J.H. Snider argues that the appointment of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to head the Heritage Foundation marks a revolutionary moment: but only if it spurs a public discussion that leads to greater transparency and accountability.
This is an old post but still relevant to many think tanks: Lobby transparency spotlight falls on think-tanks. According to the anti fraud commissioner at the European Commission in 2009:
When the scheme was conceived, “we clearly said that lobbying means ‘all activities carried out with the objective of influencing the policy formulation and decision-making processes of the European institutions’,” Kallas told an EPC briefing on Friday.
Think tanks, according to this definition should register. A quick search of the register shows that quite a few organisations that label themselves as think tanks have registered.
Now, why should think tanks register. According to the Commission, think tanks have changed and are no longer just universities without students. They are no longer able to guarantee academic integrity and are in fact driven by values and interests. This is very telling of the view that the EC has of think tanks (very German: more academic and passive than entrepreneurial).
What is interesting is that n 2009 Friends of Europe said it would not register:
Responding to the commissioner’s remarks, Friends of Europe Secretary-General Giles Merritt told EurActiv that “we have no intention of signing up as lobbyists” and expressed surprise at Kallas’s comments.
“I personally object to being called a lobbyist. I have been in Brussels for thirty years and I have never once lobbied. I don’t even know what a lobbyist does,” he said.
“I was a bit surprised that [the Commission] went to another think-tank to single us out,” Merritt continued, adding that he had responded by writing to the EU executive to invite Commissioner Kallas and other think-tank representatives to publicly debate on the issue on Friends of Europe premises.
But it has. Maybe because the lobby register was relabeled Transparency Register. Interesting.