Policymaking is transparent if the policy targets (the changes in reality initiated by the politicians) are verifiable, reliable and measurable. So, the targets of the politicians and government should be expressed in terms of explicitly formulated changes in reality. A second important condition for transparency in policymaking is that the whole policymaking process should be considered, from the decision making up and until the evaluation of the changes in reality. Too often the emphasis is on the policy decision process, without considering the realisability of their decisions.
Citizens want the politicians to be transparent in their behavior. They don’t accept promises without clear and explicit justification of the politicians and the government on the results of their policymaking. Without the acceptation of the citizen it is not possible to implement policies in an effective way.
Evidence based decision making is not necessary for arriving at effective policymaking. The decision making process is only one of the parts of the policymaking process. Namely, the part in which the changes in reality are defined. In this part of the process the stakeholders should play an important role for example the citizens (especially if their environment is directly influenced by the policy). Logically, the implementation of the policy follows the policy decision making. One of the other process steps is the measuring of the facts: what is the result of the implementation? Statisticians are used to measure the facts in reality in an objective way. They take into account precise definitions of the elements that are to be measured. Moreover, they possess adequate methods to provide unambiguous data about the parts of reality involved and its environment, according to these definitions.
Transparency in public policymaking implies dissemination of unambiguous information in each part of the policymaking process. This information shows clearly the relevant data and metadata (i.e. the reference to the real world described by the data). The metadata are to be provided together with the data in order to obtain transparency. In the hurry to present certain outcomes of (parts of) the policymaking process, media may tend to “forget” some of the metadata. The consequence may be (1) a biased representation of reality or (2) the presentation of a view on reality that is not relevant in the context of the policymaking process at hand.
Sciences provide contributions to a more transparent policymaking process. This is not only the case for the scientist active on the fields mentioned above like statisticians, political scientists, economists and sociologists. Other sciences contribute by adding value in multidisciplinary cooperation. Among these, developments in the field of IT (providing means for the social media) and information systems contribute significantly, in each part of the policymaking process. Examples are:
(1) Evaluation of the results of the governmental policy.
(2) Modeling the target result in terms of elements to be changed in reality.
(3) Registration (in an unambiguous way) of the targets in terms of object types, values and time stamps (target indicators).
(4) Measuring the results of the policies using advanced statistical methods.
(5) Verifying the results in comparison with the original objectives.
(6) Presentation of the results by publication on the www: showing the target indicators as well as the indicators showing the result