The Office of the Information Commissioner is pleased to present Emeritus Professor Richard Mulgan delivering the 2015 Solomon Lecture on “Government resistance to greater transparency: rational or self defeating?”
Though advocates of open government continue to proclaim the value of transparency, many government leaders, both politicians and public servants, are clearly unconvinced. The lecture seeks to confront this opposition by critically examining a number of reasons given for resisting greater disclosure: fear of increased cost, fear of revealing information belonging to others, fear of inferior policy outcomes, and fear of causing political damage to the government of the day. Each of these fears has a more reasonable basis than is often acknowledged. But each can be reduced in the light of positive evidence about the value of disclosure and within a more nuanced and refined case for open government.
The lecture canvasses a number of general strategies for improving public access to government information, including less government discretion over what and when to publish, less reliance on individual requests for information, and greater clarity over what documents are non-disclosable.
Professor Mulgan holds the status of professor emeritus in the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University where he continues to do research and teach in the area of public sector management. Professor Mulgan joined The Australian National University in 1994, having previously held chairs in Political Studies and Classics at the Universities of Otago and Auckland in New Zealand.
Professor Mulgan has specialised in the area of accountability, which includes transparency and performance information. This area of expertise has led to consultancy work with a number of mainly government organisations, including New Zealand Treasury; New Zealand Law Commission; Australian Local Government Association; South Australian Auditor‐ General; Metropolitan Ambulance Service Royal Commission (Victoria); AusAID; and the Business Council of Australia. Professor Mulgan has also published a number of books and articles on the topic of accountability and related fields including two papers as part of OIC’s and Australian and New Zealand School of Government’s Transparency Series.