My day job is leading the aidinfo team working to improve the transparency of international aid. Why? Because we think that when aid is more transparent it will be more effectively used and it will help people in developing countries to hold their governments to account. We also believe that if taxpayers can see where aid is really going, and see what a difference it makes, they will support more of it.
So I was dead pleased to see this by David Cameron in today’s Guardian
Transparency tears down the hiding places for sleaze, overspending and corruption. Soon enough all MPs’ expenses are going to be published online for everyone to see: I and the rest of the shadow cabinet are already doing it. And if we win the next election, we’re going to do the same for all other public servants earning over £150,000. Just imagine the effect that an army of armchair auditors is going to have on those expense claims.
Indeed, the promise of public scrutiny is going to have a powerful effect on over-spending of any variety. A Conservative government will put all national spending over £25,000 online for everyone to see, so citizens can hold the government to account for how their tax money is being spent. And we will extend this principle of transparency to every nook and cranny of politics and public life, because it’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to transfer power to the powerless and prevent waste, exploitation and abuse.
Yes, yes, and thrice yes, as Mark Kermode would say.
What’s more, with current technologies, we can do this quite easily, and unleash the creative power not only of armchair auditors, but of millions of people who are not in armchairs but are directly experiencing the effects of that spending and who can help us to understand what is working and how it can be made to work better.