An image with key facts about the report The Benefits for transparency. Date: February 2024, Focus region: United Kingdom, Organisation: Institute for Government.

A new report by the Institute for Government showcases the various benefits that a transparent government can have on said government, and practical steps to improve it.

Most often when transparency by governments is discussed, the arguments focus on benefits to the public. This new report has taken a closer look at how transparency might affect a government itself – and found various benefits. Consequently, it sets out practical steps to improve transparency in governments.

Before doing so, however, it re-examines why transparency might be deemed burdensome and a hinderance by those in government. Being transparent requires data collection and publication as well as having a strategy on how to maintain said data. This takes away time and resources from other priorities. Similarly, transparent processes can easily reveal poor performance and unethical behaviour, which can lead to those in government trying to be less transparent.

In contrast, though, the report identifies four benefits of transparency to government.

  1. Delivering greater value for money – the publication of tenders drives down prices for government as it allows for greater competition. Equally, publishing information about government grants allows other funders to work closely with government and maximise impacts.
  2. Improving performance and efficiency – problems can be anticipated, and key public services improved by publishing more information.
  3. Improving accountability – government can be held to account more easily by parliament, the media and the public, which benefits public services and improves the behaviour of individuals and organisations.
  4. Supporting innovation – publicly available data can be used to provide new services and develop new products.


A quote reading: "By changing attitudes towards and processes for transparency, future governments will be able to [...] show that transparency actually helps government get things done."

Practical steps for improving transparency in government

In order to improve and encourage transparency practices in UK government(s), the report lays out eight practical steps, including:

  • Departments improving civil servants’ capacity for taking a more transparent approach;
  • Government identifying and working with potential users of information to ensure that what government publishes is as useful as possible;
  • Departmental transparency champions should focus on building a culture of transparency across government.

All eight practical steps can be found in the report.


The report was collated based on seven case studies, including Transport for London’s (TfL) open data, Scottish public appointments and MPs’ expenses.

The Institute for Government is the UK’s leading independent think tank working to make government more effective. Through in-depth analysis, expert commentary and influential public events they explore how government works – and how it can work better.

Explore the report and its pratical steps now »