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Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency Paperback – July 21, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"Packed with ideas and information, Full Disclosure is, by far, the best book to date on the problem of public transparency. The authors offer a host of indispensable lessons for citizens and policymakers in diverse domains, including education, pollution, national security, and health care. At the same time, Full Disclosure is an important contribution to democratic theory -- and a great read to boot."
Cass Sunstein, University of Chicago Law School

"Sunshine may indeed be the best disinfectant, in Louis Brandeis' words, but only if we know when, where, and how to shine the light. That is exactly the task that Full Disclosure sets itself. This is an important book at an important time, for everyone from mayors to senators to secretary generals."
Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

"The authors have done us all a good service by offering sound analysis and ideas on how to make public policy transparent and accessible for all citizens. As the country heads into the 21st century, more transparent governance is just what we need."
Tom Daschle, Former Senate Majority Leader

"Governmental transparency efforts inform the public about additives in the food we eat, dangerous criminals in our neighborhoods, and the financial support of our political leaders. Full Disclosure offers several important lessons that will help give citizens easier access to vital information through the creation of better, more meaningful transparency policies."
Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico

"Superb...This rich, carefully researched, well balanced, and readily accessible study shows us that good governance, with legislators at the local, state, or national levels in the lead, is surely difficult but far from unattainable. This is hard-nosed scholarship demonstrating, as the authors themselves discovered, that pragmatism about both policy expectations and policy results should prevail among political leaders and citizens alike."
Brian J. Cook, Clark University, Perspectives on Politics

"Full Disclosure provides a wide-ranging and systematic analysis of targeted transparency in the United States...The book makes two key contributions: it clarifies the factors that determines whether policies are effective and it suggests that transparency measures are now entering a new phase when they can be even more useful to the public than in the past."
Paul Starr, The American Prospect

"It is a fantastically researched and excellently written....I suspect it is destined to become the definitive book in the area, and i recommend it to academics..."
Jay P. Shimshack, Political Science Quarterly

"A major contribution to our understanding of targeted transparency as a policy...Fung, Graham and Weil have provided a compendium and reference resource for thinking about how to structure transparency in the new governance..."
Lisa Blomgren Bingham, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

"Full Disclosure is a guide for policymakers, complete with the requisite "10 principles for an effective transparency policy" guide. It ought to make citizens wise to the tricks that commonly turn transparency policies into little more than symbolism."
Lee Drutman, San Francisco Chronicle

"In their thoughtful and constructive book, Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency, Archon Fung, Mary Graham, and David Weil provide an in-depth assessment of government mandated disclosure policies intended to reduce the costs to consumers created by imperfect information."
Clifford Winston, Brookings Institution, Journal of Economic Literature

Book Description

Full Disclosure is the first analysis of national and international transparency policies-including car safety ratings, nutritional labels, campaign finance disclosure, and toxic pollution disclosures-that aim to reduce serious public risks and improve critical services. Full Disclosure explains why some transparency policies succeed while others fail.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (July 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521699614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521699617
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,188,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By J. Zheng on June 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Full Disclosure: Perils and Promise of Transparency" (Fung, Graham, and Weil 2007) is undoubtedly a first-rate book on a regulatory tool that is dynamic in nature. The authors acknowledge the promising, but sometimes perilous transparency(information disclosure) tool as a complement to the existing standards and market based policies in order to redress certain policy problems. The authors nicely interplay the factors of politics, economics, and cognitive powers of varying stakeholders to analyze the development and sustainability of existing and future domestic and global transparency policies. This book is not only a page turner, but a power analytical framework for analyzing the effectiveness and efficiency of a given transparency policy, the likes of financial disclosure laws and the global reporting of infectious diseases.

The authors present their arguments and evidence in a concise and understandable format which will allow ordinary citizens with little or no understanding of economics and governance to find this book a powerful guide and hopefully; after reading, become active participants in the movement for greater transparency in both the public and private sectors. Thus, this is a win-win book for both citizens and policymakers alike.

Lastly, the authors critically examine the advances in information technology like that of the Internet and related technologies such as instant messaging, online blogs, and online book reviews (here), which led to the rise of a third generation transparency systems that differs from the right-to-know and targeted transparency policies, the first and second generation transparency policies, respectively, because of the collaborative information sharing aspects of the new system.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I used this book primarily to communicate to non-technically non-mathematically inclined individuals the pros and cons of "data transparency" as an organizational initiative. As this kind of transparency becomes the norm, I think this is a great start for those that would like to consider why a comprehensive understanding is needed before simply making data public.
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Format: Hardcover
What information sends clear signals to consumers and voters so they can make good decisions, and what is just more noise? Fung, Graham and Weil have carefully analyzed a range of what they call "targeted transparency" systems - from orange terror alerts to school performance ratings to soup labels - to identify the features of the systems that work. Although generally written for governmental policy makers, it's important reading for anyone who cares about a local, state, or federal issue and wants government to do a better job of informing citizens.
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The issue of transparency is not new. The history of concealment, secrecy and disclosure is part of the modern history of this nation and the globe. However, given financial debacles beginning with the Great Depression, including Enron, World Com, and the banking financial crisis there is much to understand. Full Disclosure redefines transparency in terms of politics and economics and is tremendous for understanding the issues that effect everyone's life.
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Format: Hardcover
Good discussion of how hard it is to find data on the safety of things from cars to food to investments. Goes into great detail about how to make interpretable ratings or labels, and what organizations should coperate to do them.

Authors prove own point by missing out on key data on several topics, and merely quote dogma. For example, the supposed dangers of "sodium" meaning sodium ion or salt (pp21,84,111) ignore key data that salt intake affects people both ways, and 10g/day is not that dangerous. See Elliott P et al. (1988). Intersalt: an international study of electrolyte excretion and blood pressure. Results for 24 hour urinary sodium and potassium excretion. British Medical Journal 297:319-328.

Authors quote dogma on high-fat foods and the supposed dangers of saturated fat (p33,53,84,111). See Enig M, Know Your Fats, 1999; Allan & Lutz, Life Without Bread, 2000; Ravnskov U, The Cholesterol Myths, Colpo A, The Great Cholesterol Con.

Authors cite fiber as a good thing (p88), but studies show some forms are beneficial for some conditions in some people, not nearly all, and many people are worse off with higher fiber intake. See Montonen J, Knekt P, Järvinen R, Aromaa A, Reunanen A (2003). Whole-grain and fiber intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 77:622-629; Fuchs CS, Giovannucci EL, Colditz GA, Hunter DJ, Stampfer MJ, Rosner B, Speizer FE, Willett WC (1999). Dietary Fiber and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer and Adenoma in Women. New England Journal of Medicine 348(3):169-176.

Authors treat Material Safety Data Sheets descriptions of chemical hazards seriously. Try looking up salt, sugar powder and toluene MSDSs. You will see how hazardous these valuable substances are made to look.
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