Lobbyists, Government and Public Trust: Increasing Transparency Through Legislation

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OECD, Feb 1, 2010 - Business & Economics - 170 pages
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Lobbying can improve policy making by providing valuable insights and data, but it can also result in unfair advantages for vested interests if the process is opaque and standards are lax. 

Lobbying is resource intensive. The financial services sector in the United States spent USD 3.4 billion lobbying the federal government between 1998 and 2008, principally promoting the deregulation of the financial sector. Legions of lobbyists provide “guns for hire” worldwide. In 2008, there were over 5 000 registered lobbyists in Canada at the national level, while the European Commission in Brussels had over 2 000 registered as of August 2009. 

In the context of the current financial and economic crisis, the stakes of lobbying are higher than ever, particularly given the scale of government bailouts and stimulus packages and plans to rewrite regulations. Setting rules for enhancing transparency in lobbying is challenging because the border between giving sound advice and promoting vested interests is thin, and practices often fall in grey areas. This report reviews the experiences of Australia, Canada, Hungary, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States with government regulations designed to increase scrutiny for lobbying and lobbyists. Current approaches, models, trends and state-of-the-art solutions are examined to support a deeper understanding of the potential and limitations of existing norms. The report also presents building blocks for developing a framework for lobbying that meets public expectations for transparency, accountability and integrity.  

This report is part of OECD’s groundbreaking efforts to promote integrity in the public sector by mapping governance and corruption risks – e.g. procurement, conflict of interest and revolving door – and setting standards for cleaner, fairer and stronger economies. Volume 2 in this series will focus on options for self-regulation by lobbyists.

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Building a Framework for Enhancing Transparency
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