Measuring Openness

Measuring Openness: A Resource List

Below find many entries about efforts to compare the transparency of nations and organizations.

Many different ratings have been developed — on right to information laws, freedom of the press, quality of governance, revenues, budgets, and more. 

Debate about developing good indicators is ongoing. 

In late 2012, published an article by Columbia University journalism professor Sheila Coronel reflecting on the idea of creating a global transparency index: Measuring Openness: A survey of transparency ratings and the prospects for a global index. Her article prompted a discussion of the idea in subsequent commentary by Helen Darbishire and Toby Mendel, Sheila Coronel, Gergana Jouleva.

Groups in many countries produce assessments of national transparency on which has reported. Search by country to find them.

Right to Information Rating

The Centre for Law and Democracy and Access Info Europe prepare the Global Right to Information Rating, which evaluates and ranks the legal frameworks governing access to information.

World Justice Project 

The World Justice Project in March 2015 issued an “Open Government Index” rating 102 countries in four categories, including right to information. “Instead of measuring what the law says, we measure how these laws are experienced by ordinary people interacting with their governments around the world,” according to the report. (See report.) published reactions to the WJP index by Helen Darbishire, the Director of AccessInfo Europe, and Ben Worthy, Lecturer in Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. A subsequent article by WJP expanded on the methodology.

Open Government Partnership

The OGP Explorer is a tool that facilitates analysis of OGP data, including the commitments made in national action plans.

Carter Center

The Carter Center Global Access to Information Program created a “Implementation Assessment Tool” to evaluate the implementation of FOI laws. It does not produce country comparisons, but rather is intended as a tool for country-by-country analysis. The document that lays out the indicators in the most details is here.

World Bank FOI Database

The Work Bank has a database with aggregated information about FOI regimes, with detail on seven indicators. List maintains a list of countries with FOI laws.

Open Data

The second edition of the Open Data Barometer was issued in January 2015 by the Worldwide Web Foundation, examining the availability of open data in 86 countries.

The WWF  has produces an Open Data Census to survey and compare the progress made by different cities and local areas in releasing open data.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Freedom in the World: Freedom House’s flagship publication, assesses global political rights and civil liberties, with transparency as a small component. Look under ” reports” on the Freedom House website.

Freedom of the Press

Reporters Without Borders (look under “publications”) prepares a Press Freedom Index. (2015 report)

Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press index is an annual survey of media independence in 197 countries and territories. Look under “reports” on the Freedom House website. (2015 report)


The Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 176 countries and territories.

Environmental Transparency 

The Environmental Transparency Index uses 75 indicators to evaluate 70 countries in three main areas: transparency, participation and access to justice. The index was created by the World Resources Institute and The Access Initiative “based on objective and internationally recognized standards established by the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Bali Guidelines.”

International Aid Flows

Publish What You Fund monitors the transparency of international aid organizations in its Aid Transparency Index.

Extractive Industries Revenues

Information is available on which countries have joined the Extractive industries Transparency Initiative. Also on the site in data that governments report on revenues from extraction of natural resources and that companies report on payments to governments.

Resource Governance

The Natural Resource Governance Institute produces a Resource Governance Index evaluating 58 countries.


Budget Transparency

The International Budget Partnership issues a biennial report, the Budget Survey, “a comprehensive analysis and survey that evaluates whether governments give the public access to budget information and opportunities to participate in the budget process at the national level.” See the Open Budget Data Explorer.

Government Revenues

Revenue Watch publishes the Revenue Watch Index that measures government disclosure in the management of oil, gas and minerals. It ranks transparency in 41 countries among the world’s top producers of petroleum, gold, copper and diamonds.

General Governance

The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators project reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for 215 economies over the period 1996-2011, for six dimensions of governance: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption.

Global Integrity produces an annual report, usually on several dozen countries, examining transparency of the public procurement process, media freedom, asset disclosure requirements, conflicts of interest regulations, and other indicators.

The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index assesses countries’ performance across nine areas of good governance, including aspects of transparency and accountability, based on survey assessments of the general public and local legal experts.

Asset Disclosure

A World Bank database, the Financial Disclosure Law Library, assesses whether 176 countries have financial disclosure systems for public officials. The database also includes anti-corruption laws, conflict of interest laws and codes of ethics/conduct.


Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net report evaluates the degree of internet and digital media freedom. It includes detailed country reports and a numerical index covering 47 countries. Look under “reports” on the Freedom House website.

International Institutions

One World Trust examined a variety of international governmental organizations (IGOs), companies and international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs). The result was a series of reports: in 2006, 2007, and ending in 2008. They addressed “accountability,” of which transparency was one element, along with participation, evaluation, and complaint and response mechanisms. The Global Accountability Reports assessed 90 global organizations over three years. A May 2011 paper describes plans to revamp the methodology and provides details on the indicators. A fifth area, “accountability strategy,” was added.

More recently, One World Trust has been examining “power, equity and accountability challenges in global climate governance and their impact on efforts to ensure progress on poverty alleviation, public health and the management of population dynamics,” according to a webpage description.  The Global Climate Governance Project released first summary findings from the 2011/12 accountability assessments of the World Bank /IBRD, the WTO, the WHO and DFID.

International Financial Institutions

The Global Transparency Initiative prepared a database containing more than 250 indicators to compare the transparency of international financial organizations. The resource was the basis for a series of red-yellow-green comparisons of IFI disclosure policies. These charts were successfully used to advocate for reforms. The database is now outdated because of policy changes at the IFIs.

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