Purpose – The aim of this paper is to examine the extent of financial information made available by public administrations on their web sites and to discover whether this communications policy is influenced by the context in which the public entity operates. Design/methodology/approach – The study took as its reference the prior literature and distinguished three dimensions – information content, qualitative characteristics of information and accessibility – which were converted into a disclosure index that was used to assess government web sites. A multivariable linear regression analysis was performed in search of a relationship between seven external factors and the provision of public financial information online. Findings – The empirical research revealed that the sample municipalities were not fully aware of the potential importance of the internet in enabling the achievement of e‐democracy initiatives as a tool of new public management. The factors previously found to be important in paper‐based reporting seem to have no influence on the public disclosure of financial information on the internet. Only the cost of debt and access to the internet in households seem to be relevant factors in the degree of financial information transparency achieved via the internet. Practical implications – The good practices by greater online public financial transparency could improve the image of governments and the confidence of citizens. Originality/value – This paper tries to encourage a benchmarking process disseminating best practices in online government financial information and identifying the key variables that promote this process.
Online Information Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 20, 2008
Keywords: Democracy; Government; Incentives (psychology); Best practice; Online operations; Spain
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