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UW-Parkside professor awarded funds for government transparency research
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UW-Parkside professor awarded funds for government transparency research

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The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership has announced that it will provide $20,381.50 for Dr. Michael A. Hansen’s research project, “Opening the Door to Backroom Politics: Local Government Digital Transparency and Privacy in Wisconsin.”

Hansen is teaching in the Politics, Philosophy, and Law Department in the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Ryan J. Owens, director of the Tommy G. Thompson center, said Hansen’s project has the potential to transform Wisconsin.

The proposed research seeks to understand variance in government transparency, public policy information access and data privacy on local-level government websites in Wisconsin. In particular, the project’s goal is to better understand why some local governments have a lack of democratic transparency, as well as to better understand the factors that are most closely associated with greater digital policy information promotion on policies that impact citizens’ daily lives.

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The project will involve a deep-dive into local-level government websites in the state: all 72 county, 190 city, 407 village, 1,255 town, and 440 school district sites. In addition, the project will conduct surveys with local-level officials in leadership positions in order to better understand how officials view their role in ensuring citizen privacy while promoting effective government.

“We are so lucky to have Michael in the Politics, Philosophy and Law Department,” said CSSPS Dean Dr. Peggy James. “He brings strong research opportunities to our students, such as this one, as well as being a committed teacher and campus citizen.”

“Hopefully, the impact of the research will be a better understanding of the factors that impact a lack of transparency among local level governments’ digital platforms,” Hansen said.

“Further, we hope to develop a checklist of information that citizens are most in need of accessing in order to provide this information to governmental bodies. Finally, the overarching goal of pursuing funding for the project is to be able to hire and mentor undergraduate students as research assistants and provide them with an opportunity to participate in scholarly research.”

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