American presidents have used secrecy to protect the nation but also to hid their blunders, illnesses, controversial plans, and unethical behavior. Presidents’ Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power tracks the rise of government secrecy that began with surveillance and loyalty programs during Woodrow Wilson’s administration, flourished during the Cold War, was reined in during the 1970s, and continues to grow from abuse and neglect.
Full Disclosure examines 15 targeted transparency policies in the United States and three international policies to assess their effectiveness and sustainability. Because such policies are always political compromises, they can offer incomplete, incomprehensible, or irrelevant information to consumers, workers, investors, and community residents. Domestic policies are aimed at informing the public about healthy food, auto safety, drinking water contamination, toxic pollution, hospital safety, and workplace health and safety. International policies include corporate financial disclosure, data about infectious disease outbreaks, and the labeling of genetically modified foods.
Disclosure systems have become mainstream policy in the United States. At best, they represent a light-handed form of regulation that preserves individual choices and corporate discretion while serving the public interest in increased health, safety, environmental protection, and effective investing. Government by disclosure represents a third wave of modern risk regulation. But disclosure can also be counter-productive. Political compromises can leave information distorted, incomplete, or misunderstood.
After a generation of progress in reducing large sources of industrial and government pollution and improving the management of public lands, new political challenges involve controlling pollution caused by farmers, small businesses, drivers of aging cars, and homeowners, as well as reducing ecological threats on private land. Remedies often lie in politically treacherous territory – persuading ordinary people to change their daily routines.
"Targeting Transparency" by David Weil, Mary Graham, and Archon Fung. Science, v.340. June 21, 2013, pp. 1410-1411.
"Transparency and the right to know" by Mary Graham. Op-Ed piece in The Boston Globe. April 25, 2009.
"Full Disclosure: Using Transparency to Fight Climate Change" by Elena Fagotto and Mary Graham. Issues in Science and Technology, Summer 2007.
"The Effectiveness of Regulatory Disclosure Policies" by David Weil, Archon Fung, Mary Graham, Elena Fagotto. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, v. 25, no. 1. Winter 2006.
“Building Intelligence to Fight Terrorism” by James Steinberg, Mary Graham, and Andrew Eggers, Brookings Institution Policy Brief #125, September 2003.
“The Information Wars” The Atlantic Monthly, September 2002.
"Clarifying Transparency" by Archon Fung, Mary Graham and David Weil. Financial Times, Tuesday, April 23, 2002: 15.
"Disclosure of Toxic Releases in the United States" by Mary Graham and Catherine Miller. Environment, October 2001.
"Improving Communication About New Food Technologies" by David Greenberg and Mary Graham. Issues in Science and Technology, Summer 2000.
"Regulation by Shaming" by Mary Graham. The Atlantic Monthly, April 2000.
High Resolution, Unresolved" The Atlantic Monthly, July 1996.
"Unprotected Children" The Atlantic Monthly, March 1993.
"Suggestions for Improving Transparency Policies" and a Transparency Policy Analytic Checklist, both prepared for the Obama administration. Spring 2009.
"Transparency Policies: Two Possible Futures" by Archon Fung, Mary Graham, David Weil and Elena Fagotto. A. Alfred Taubman Center for State and Local Government, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Taubman Policy Brief PB-2007-1.
"From Food to Finance: What Makes Disclosure Policies Effective?" by Archon Fung, Mary Graham, David Weil and Elena Fagotto. A. Alfred Taubman Center for State and Local Government, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Taubman Policy Brief PB-2005-3.
"The Political Economy of Transparency: What Makes Disclosure Policies Effective?" by Archon Fung, Mary Graham, David Weil and Elena Fagotto. Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, OPS-03-04, 2004.
"The Political Economy of Transparency: What Makes Disclosure Policies Sustainable?" by Archon Fung, Mary Graham and David Weil. Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, OPS-02-03, 2003.
"Information as Risk Regulation" by Mary Graham. Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, OPS-10-01, 2001.