Few would disagree that the public,(Linkov 2009) and the civil society organisations(Norris 2011) that represent it in various ways, have a right to know what government is trying to do when it spends taxpayer’s money. This paper explores the role of visual outcomes models in making government intentions more transparent and quickly communicating them to the public and to stakeholders.
Many call for increased transparency from government [refs on this point], in addition to this being a basic democratic right, this is important for a number of reasons. Government being transparent about its intentions is likely to promote: more public confidence in government: decreased distrust; and less alienation from government. It may be that part of the current distrust of government is a result of it being hard for the population to know what it is that government is trying to do [refs on alientation from government and anything on why this is the case]. Increased clarity about its intentions is also likely to mean that government can claim credit for the work it does. Lastly, if government intentions are not clearly articulated and communicated, there is little chance that it can incite community mobilization in pursuit of outcomes it shares with the community.
Beyond the headlines, a member of the public attempting to find out what their government’s intentions are can currently face a difficult task. The answer is out there but it is just often well buried. Barriers such as the overwhelming amount, format, language including the arcane names and processes which are involved with its preparation all hinder public digestibility and access. Much government documentation setting out its intentions and outcomes tends to be: fragmented, voluminous, inaccessible, written in government speak, and hard to see both the big picture and to be able to drill down to the necessary detail.