This report and preface was originally posted by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative as part of the Learning from Evidence series.

Transparency – or access to information about the responsibilities and actions of those in government – is widely viewed as a prerequisite for effective democratic governance. Various studies testify to the results made possible by transparency initiatives, particularly in the context of democratic elections. Yet there is relatively scarce evidence to explore the effects of transparency on non-electoral accountability or to inform practitioner and policy-maker investments in strengthening accountable democratic governance.

The preface provides an overview of the specific pathways to accountability explored through the Learning from Evidence series. The document further provides a high-level summary of evidence from a detailed evidence syntheses on within-government and citizen-government accountability actors and pathways. These pathways provide one framework to understand existing evidence on how information affects government accountability. Funders and practitioners can draw on the Learning from Evidence series to inform program and investment strategy designs to strengthen accountable democratic governance during non-electoral periods.

The report with evidence syntheses offer a conceptual framework to understand the causal mechanisms and types of information interventions to enhance accountability and to identify gaps in the evidence base. The report discusses the quality of evidence examined and the implications of these findings to help us develop more nuanced models for understanding the relationship between transparency and accountability.

These reports are part of the Learning from Evidence series, a learning process undertaken by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative to engage with and utilize the evolving evidence base on the support of our members’ transparency and accountable governance goals. We are pleased to have partnered with MIT’s Governance Lab and Twaweza on this initiative.

Header image of a suggestion box in Kenya by Lindsay Bremner on Flickr