We adopt the principal-agent framework and the asymmetry of information between the principal and the agent in order to approach two subjects of much attention and expectations: i) the formal online release of governmental data as a means of furnishing information, and ii) its contribution to government economic and institutional transparency. We identify important characteristics of transparency as instruments to lessen the information asymmetry in relevant areas (or subjects) where corruption and inefficiency are generally present in political institutions. We focus on the central governments of sixteen Latin American nations. We determine that, while there exists a moderate release of data relevant to areas where corruption generally takes place, its contribution to providing meaningful information to the citizenry is minimal. Our findings also show the importance of policy that explicitly mandates that data corresponding to specific areas where corruption and inefficiency take place be shared over the Internet; adequate levels of national online technical sophistication are not sufficient. We conclude that modern information technologies, as tools to contributing to government transparency and lessen knowledge divides in the evaluated areas, are not meeting expectations. Our framework and findings seek to utilize political science theories to contribute to an early understanding of the role of modern data-oriented technologies in government transparency, and highlight the positive and negative effects that these can have in the betterment of governance and the consolidation of democracy.
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