front cover of Reclaiming Accountability
Reclaiming Accountability
Transparency, Executive Power, and the U.S. Constitution
Heidi Kitrosser
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Americans tend to believe in government that is transparent and accountable. Those who govern us work for us, and therefore they must also answer to us. But how do we reconcile calls for greater accountability with the competing need for secrecy, especially in matters of national security? Those two imperatives are usually taken to be antithetical, but Heidi Kitrosser argues convincingly that this is not the case—and that our concern ought to lie not with secrecy, but with the sort of unchecked secrecy that can result from “presidentialism,” or constitutional arguments for broad executive control of information.
In Reclaiming Accountability, Kitrosser traces presidentialism from its start as part of a decades-old legal movement through its appearance during the Bush and Obama administrations, demonstrating its effects on secrecy throughout. Taking readers through the key presidentialist arguments—including “supremacy” and “unitary executive theory”—she explains how these arguments misread the Constitution in a way that is profoundly at odds with democratic principles. Kitrosser’s own reading offers a powerful corrective, showing how the Constitution provides myriad tools, including the power of Congress and the courts to enforce checks on presidential power, through which we could reclaim government accountability.

front cover of Responsive Democracy
Responsive Democracy
Increasing State Accountability in East Asia
Jeeyang Rhee Baum
University of Michigan Press, 2011

"Responsive Democracy is a pioneering contribution to the political analysis of administrative law in East Asia. Both political scientists and legal academics will greatly benefit from the author's in-depth analysis of the intersection between presidential power and administrative law in the contrasting cases of South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines."
---Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale University Law School

"Baum's book is a very significant contribution because it focuses on a part of the world that has often been neglected in studies of democratization. It focuses attention on the nuts and bolts of what we mean by democratic consolidation and responsiveness. Indeed, if more political science were written with this clarity, we would all enjoy reading the literature much more!"
---Joseph Fewsmith, Boston University

Under what conditions is a newly democratic government likely to increase transparency, accountability, and responsiveness to its citizens? What incentives might there be for bureaucrats, including those appointed by a previously authoritarian government, to carry out the wishes of an emerging democratic regime? Responsive Democracy addresses an important problem in democratic transition and consolidation: the ability of the chief executive to control the state bureaucracy.

Using three well-chosen case studies---the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan---Jeeyang Rhee Baum explores the causes and consequences of codifying rules and procedures in a newly democratic government. In the Philippines, a president facing opposition has the option of appointing and dismissing officials at will and, therefore, has no need for administrative procedure acts. However, in South Korea and Taiwan, presidents employ such legislation to rein in recalcitrant government agencies, and, as a consequence, increase transparency, accountability, and responsiveness. Moreover, as Baum demonstrates by drawing upon surveys conducted both before and after implementation, administrative procedural reforms in South Korea and Taiwan improved public confidence in and attitudes toward democratic institutions.  

Jeeyang Rhee Baum is a Research Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.


front cover of The Rise of the Right to Know
The Rise of the Right to Know
Politics and the Culture of Transparency, 1945–1975
Michael Schudson
Harvard University Press, 2015

The American founders did not endorse a citizen’s right to know. More openness in government, more frankness in a doctor’s communication with patients, more disclosure in a food manufacturer’s package labeling, and more public notice of actions that might damage the environment emerged in our own time.

As Michael Schudson shows in The Rise of the Right to Know, modern transparency dates to the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s—well before the Internet—as reform-oriented politicians, journalists, watchdog groups, and social movements won new leverage. At the same time, the rapid growth of higher education after 1945, together with its expansive ethos of inquiry and criticism, fostered both insight and oversight as public values.

“One of the many strengths of The Rise of the Right To Know is its insistent emphasis on culture and its interaction with law…What Schudson shows is that enforceable access to official information creates a momentum towards a better use of what is disclosed and a refinement of how disclosure is best done.”
—George Brock, Times Literary Supplement

“This book is a reminder that the right to know is not an automatic right. It was hard-won, and fought for by many unknown political soldiers.”
—Monica Horten, LSE Review of Books


front cover of The State You See
The State You See
How Government Visibility Creates Political Distrust and Racial Inequality
Aaron J. Rosenthal
University of Michigan Press, 2023

The State You See uncovers a racial gap in the way the American government appears in people’s lives. It makes it clear that public policy changes over the last fifty years have driven all Americans to distrust the government that they see in their lives, even though Americans of different races are not seeing the same kind of government.

For white people, these policy changes have involved a rising number of generous benefits submerged within America’s tax code, which taken together cost the government more than Social Security and Medicare combined. Political attention focused on this has helped make welfare and taxes more visible representations of government for white Americans. As a result, white people are left with the misperception that government does nothing for them, apart from take their tax money to spend on welfare. Distrust of government is the result. For people of color, distrust is also rampant but for different reasons. Over the last fifty years, America has witnessed increasingly overbearing policing and swelling incarceration numbers. These changes have disproportionately impacted communities of color, helping to make the criminal legal system a unique visible manifestation of government in these communities.

While distrust of government emerges in both cases, these different roots lead to different consequences. White people are mobilized into politics by their distrust, feeling that they must speak up in order to reclaim their misspent tax dollars. In contrast, people of color are pushed away from government due to a belief that engaging in American elections will yield the same kind of unresponsiveness and violence that comes from interactions with the police. The result is a perpetuation of the same kind of racial inequality that has always been present in American democracy. The State You See is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding how the American government engages in subtle forms of discrimination and how it continues to uphold racial inequality in the present day.


front cover of Surveillance,  Transparency, and Democracy
Surveillance, Transparency, and Democracy
Public Administration in the Information Age
Akhlaque Haque
University of Alabama Press, 2015
Investigates public administration’s increasing dependence on technology and how its pervasive use in complex and interrelated socioeconomic and political affairs has outstripped the ability of many public administrators and the public to grasp the consequences of their choices
In this well-informed yet anxious age, public administrators have constructed vast cisterns that collect and interpret a meteoric shower of facts. Akhlaque Haque demonstrates that this pervasive use and increasing dependence on information technology (IT) enables sophisticated and well-intentioned public services that nevertheless risk deforming public policy decision-making and sees a contradiction inherent in a public that seeks services that require a level of data collection that in turn triggers fears of a tyrannical police state.
The author posits that IT’s potential as a tool for human development depends on how civil servants and citizens actively engage in identifying desired outcomes, map IT solutions to those outcomes, and routinize the applications of those solutions. This leads to his call for the development of entrepreneurs who generate innovative solutions to critical human needs and problems. In his powerful summary, he recaps possible answers to the question: What is the best way a public institution can apply technology to improving the human condition?
Engrossing, challenging, and timely, Surveillance, Transparency, and Democracy is essential reading for both policy makers as well as the great majority of readers and citizens engaged in contemporary arguments about the role of government, public health and security, individual privacy, data collection, and surveillance.

front cover of Transparency in Global Change
Transparency in Global Change
The Vanguard of the Open Society
Burkart Holzner
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006
Transparency in Global Change examines the quest for information exchange in an increasingly international, open society.  Recent transformations in governments and cultures have brought about a surge in the pursuit of knowledge in areas of law, trade, professions, investment, education, and medical practice—among others.  Technological advancements in communications, led by the United States, and public access to information fuel the phenomenon of transparency.  This rise in transparency parallels a diminution of secrecy—though, as Burkart and Leslie Holzner point out, secrecy continues to exist on many levels.  Based on current events and historical references in literature and the social sciences, <I>Transparency in Global Change</I> focuses on the turning points of information cultures, such as scandals, that lead to pressure for transparency.  Moreover, the Holzners illuminate byproducts of transparency—debate, insight, and impetus for change, as transparency exposes the moral corruptions of dictatorship, empire, and inequity.

front cover of Waste is a Terrible Thing to Mind
Waste is a Terrible Thing to Mind
Risk, Radiation, and Distrust of Government
Weingart, John
Rutgers University Press, 2007

It is an unenviable task, but one that all state governments face: finding a final “resting place” for low-level nuclear waste from power plants, hospitals, university laboratories, and other industries. John Weingart was the official in New Jersey who for many years led this onerous charge. This book is the story of how he and a commission appointed by the governor, instead of imposing a top-down solution, designed an approach that would confront public fears by seeking a community that would volunteer to host a disposal facility. Initially, this novel approach was surprisingly successful, as leaders in a dozen municipalities stepped forward to say they might be interested. Once their interest became known, however, the process in each town derailed. Residents demanded assurances of zero-percent risk and expressed profound distrust of government assertions and promises.

Waste Is a Terrible Thing to Mind is a compelling, suspenseful, and amusing insider’s account of New Jersey policy and politics, but it is also a larger saga of the challenges facing society in the post–9/11 era when the public’s distrust of government is increasing at the same time that its sensitivity to health and safety threats is heightened.

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"Written with a wry sense of humor, it is a pleasure to read and could provide the blueprint for future efforts to find locations for controversial land uses."
- Marie Curtis, Executive Director, New Jersey Environmental Lobby

"A penetrating look at one state's struggle with radioactive waste ... offering some tantalizing reflections on the public understanding of science and how we, in a democratic society, deal with complexity and uncertainty."
- Jay Kaufman, State Senator, Massachusetts State Legislature

"A provocative story, laced with humor, demonstrates how public distrust of government can make it impotent. It should be read by anyone working on public policy issues, especially planning, growth, and the environment."
- Harriet Keyserling, Former Energy Committee Chair, South Carolina State Legislature

"Readers interested in environmental policy, land use and how governments make decisions will learn much from this fine reflective insider's account. It's also a primer on how to survive and thrive in state government."
- David N. Kinsey, Visiting Professor, Woodrow Wilson School Princeton University

"... a fascinating case study of how a government agency creatively tried to solve an intractable public issue. Although the agency failed in its quest to recruit a town to host a low-level radioactive waste site, Weingart's detailed and often humorous narrative of the agency's efforts is a clear winner."
- Jack Sabatino, Judge, New Jersey Superior Court

"... a very engaging and sometimes discouraging case study about the pitfalls and perils of trying to site a controversial facility the right way."
- Gregg Larson, Administrator, Center for Biometric Research, University of Minnesota


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