Friday, September 24, 2010

The "spirit of openness" and its compliance costs

Central government has put details of its transactions worth over ₤500 on the internet for “armchair auditors”. Local government is doing likewise. This week’s Inside Housing reports that the housing minister Grant Shapps wants housing associations to follow suit in a “spirit of openness”.

If housing associations have to start opening the detail of their books, maybe other independent organisations such as academies and colleges will have to. There are levers to make this kind of thing happen. Colleges already have to publish online their governing body minutes - its enshrined in their governing instrument and articles.

While openness is desirable, such arrangements will have onerous compliance costs, especially for the smaller organisations. Maybe the publication of senior managers' and board members' expenses would be a more practical way forward.

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