From The Right to Transparency to Open Government in a Digital Era. A French Approach

William Gilles


he right to transparency in public administrations has ancient origins. Indeed, it was a one of the foundational principle of the French Revolution, and constituted a revolt against the practices of the old regime, by providing a high level of opacity, particularly in regard to the financing of public activities. Under the old regime, it was impossible to clearly distinguish the finances of the King from those of the State. The absence of a real budget under the Monarchy illustrates the financial mess that was prevalent at the time, and it also reveals the absence of transparency within the Kingdom of France. In the absence of a public budget, kings were not accountable. The only budgetary and accounting documents that existed within the nation at that time, and which could not be regarded as real budgets or accounts, were prepared solely for the king and his council’s use rather than for the public.