Transparency Occasional Paper 2: Transparency and productivity

  • Authors: John Houghton and Nicholas Gruen
  • Format: Occasional Paper
  • Published Date: 13 July 2012


This series of papers is designed to show how transparency can be used as a means to the end: effective policy implementation while minimising costs to the taxpayer. In the series there are papers that show the impact of transparency in improving public sector performance, productivity, implementation, integrity, and innovation. 

This paper evaluates the impact of transparency on productivity. The operational savings for public sector data holders in reduced processing costs is clear. Improved methodologies also now allow combined measurement of both the direct and indirect benefits of open access to publicly owned or funded data. Models based on proprietary ownership, restrictive licensing and cost recovery cost more to administer and inhibit the value of public sector data assets. Instead, models based on open access save money, maximise reuse, improve productivity and reduce red tape. The Australian Bureau of Statistics saved $1 million in data processing, delivered a further $5 million of savings to data users while contributing $25 million to the economy. The growing body of evidence is clear – transparency can be a key tool for driving productivity improvements. 

These Occasional Papers are jointly published by ANZSOG and the Office of the Information Commissioner Queensland.