Measuring real (de facto) transparency by a new index

At ERCAS we are particularly interested in the relation between transparency and corruption, and the claim that the former helps to reduce the latter. To study this we need a more direct and fact-based measurement of transparency. This is our goal with the T-Index: to supply a tool that measures actual transparency, focusing on capturing dimensions that are relevant for controlling corruption.

We also introduce an important distinction between de jure and de facto transparency. A real divorce can exist between formal (de jure) laws and concrete policy (de facto) practices, as ERCAS has shown in our previous research. Existing comparative measures of transparency rely mainly on the formal side. What we propose is to assess also de facto transparency, and we do this by observing directly the existence of public data in relevant domains, its accessibility and coverage, i.e. the practice of transparency rather than just the legal provision of it or its formal presence.

The T-Index brings important advantages for public policy and good governance. It helps to establish benchmarks of transparency and, thus, inform a very specific reform agenda. It also offers an international ranking based on facts, not perceptions, which may not only incentivize countries to progress but also offer specific policy targets. Finally, it allows policy-relevant research, as the resulting measurement can be tested in relation to curbing corruption.

This Working Paper explains how the T-Index data was collected and assessed to score more than 120 countries. For key findings and the full dataset, visit the T-Index project page.