New System Evaluates Four Countries’ Online Disclosures

5 August 2014

The adequacy of online information disclosure in four countries has been tested with a new methodology that the researchers hope can be refined for wider use.

The study covers four countries – Russia, the United States, Georgia and Belarus. It examines whether their official websites provide information in 47 specific categories and rates the adequacy and usability of the information.

The work derives from the “Infometer” developed in 2010 by the Freedom of Information Foundation, based in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Foundation has used the technique to compare Russian institutions and  its effectiveness has attracted “increasing attention from both the authorities and the expert community of the field,” according to the authors.

Applying the system internationally, the researchers found a wide variation in performance.

The top score, of 63.4 percent went to the US, followed by Georgia, 51.6%, Russia, 43.1%, and Belarus, 22.3%. The country evaluations were done by the Foundation and cooperating organizations in the other nations.

The authors are looking to refine this “very first step” toward creating an internationally useful comparison system and applying it elsewhere. “So we are open for your questions, critics, and remarks connected with our approach in general or with the research parameters.” wrote Tatyana Tolsteneva, Program Director (tatyana.tolsteneva@svobodainfo.org).

The study covers a range of topics, including:

– Information on voting in the highest legislative body

– Information about meetings held by the highest executive body

– The state budget

– State and local procurement

– Access to legislation

– Access to court rulings

– Financial disclosure by public officials

– Tax information

– Local crime statistics, and

– Cartographic information

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