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Lobbyists, Governments and Public Trust, Volume 1

Increasing Transparency through Legislation

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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.

 

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

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Foreword

Private interests seeking to influence government decisions, legislation or the award of contracts is part of the policy-making process in modern democracies. Lobbying can improve government decisions by providing valuable insights and data, but it can also lead to unfair advantages for vocal vested interests if the process is opaque and standards are lax. The interests of the community are at risk when negotiations are carried out behind closed doors. A sound framework for lobbying is particularly desirable in the context of the financial and economic crisis, where critical policy decisions are taken in short time spans, massive amounts of public monies are spent and rules and regulations for entire industries are rewritten. The emerging OECD principles for transparency and integrity in lobbying would be one of the policy instruments for building stronger, cleaner and fairer economies.

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