Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency. By Archon Fung, Mary Graham, and David Weil. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 282p. $28.00.
One of the cornerstones of Woodrow Wilson's policy agenda, even before he formally sought the presidency, was transparency. To neutralize corporate misbehavior, for instance, he called for “turn[ing] the light” on corporations: “They don't like light. Turn it on so strong they can't stand it. Exposure is one of the best ways to whip them into line.” Although the authors of this superb work do not acknowledge Wilson's part in the evolutionary line of transparency policy, they do show by means of thorough and enlightening description and analysis the fruit finally borne of ideas like those Wilson espoused. Indeed, the authors tell a story of policy design that demonstrates the continuing value of careful legislative craftsmanship and policy refinement over time, based on feedback from administration and enforcement. It is a tale of effective legislative governance, particularly at the national level, that far too many American citizens, and even political leaders, believe is impossible or at least unlikely anymore.
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