In the framework that we use, we think of disclosure and reporting as being fundamentally about 1) transparency and 2) accountability. There are many difficult data and methodological issues associated with these terms, but boiled down, we see a focus on the following basic questions:
- How much are we spending?
- Who is receiving incentives?
When there are calls for greater transparency in incentive use, people are generally seeking information about these two essential issues.
Accountability is more about what has been achieved as a result of our incentive spending. People want to know:
- What are we getting out of our incentives spending?
- Are these programs a good way to go about achieving those goals? Specifically, are they effective (do what they are supposed to do) and efficient (a good way to use our limited resources)?
Put this way, it looks pretty simple, but those of you involved in incentives disclosure, reporting and evaluation know it gets complicated very quickly, and it is quite difficult to answer these questions.
To help, here is a link to the infographic on Managing Incentives for Transparency and Accountability, developed with our partners at the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC), which breaks down each of the steps economic development organizations can take to collect and manage incentive data, monitor and evaluate program activities, and disclose and report on incentive activity to elected leaders and citizens.