Design principles for creating digital transparency in government

Ricardo Matheus*, Marijn Janssen, Tomasz Janowski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


Under pressure to fight corruption, hold public officials accountable, and build trust with citizens, many governments pursue the quest for greater transparency. They publish data about their internal operations, externalize decision-making processes, establish digital inquiry lines to public officials, and employ other forms of transparency using digital means. Despite the presence of many transparency-enhancing digital tools, putting such tools together to achieve the desired level of digital transparency, to design entire government systems for digital transparency, remains challenging. Design principles and other design guides are lacking in this area. This article aims to fill this gap. We identify a set of barriers to digital transparency in government, define 16 design principles to overcome such barriers, and evaluate these principles using three case studies from different countries. Some principles apply to projects, others to systems, yet others to entire organizations. To achieve digital transparency, before building and deploying digital solutions, government organizations should build technological and institutional foundations and use such foundations to organize themselves for transparency. The proposed design principles can help develop and apply such foundations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101550
Number of pages18
JournalGovernment Information Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Design principles
  • Digital transparency
  • Open data
  • Open government
  • Transparency
  • Transparency-by-design
  • Window theory


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