In the last two months, multiple influential and powerful institutions have been the subject of major scandal.
The Catholic church, President Trump and Ohio State University have displayed a lack of transparency with the people they affect most.
How do large institutions that exist within society keep dark and disturbing secrets from the public? One answer to this question is simply the lack of public accountability.
At the beginning of August, a grand jury determined in a report that six of the
Pennsylvania’s eight Catholic dioceses had abused more than 1,000 identifiable victims. The report stated “it is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.”
“Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” the grand jury wrote.
The federal government too. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort were both guilty in court for tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
Cohen said he made those unlawful contributions to silence women who had detrimental information on Trump. The bombshell is Cohen’s actions were at the president’s command.
Who is keeping the president accountable for his actions?
Prior to Ohio State’s opening football game of the season, public documents showed Head Coach Urban Meyer gave Zach Smith remarkable performance reviews during the period of time he knew Smith was under police investigation for domestic violence and behaving erratically, according to The Washington Post’s Columnist Sally Jenkins.
The investigator’s report contains information to how state university employees failed to adhere to public document request laws.
After Ohio State gave documents to the investigators, the school put them on their official website.
“At Ohio State, we hold public records in trust for the people we serve,” the website states. “Providing prompt access to the public records we create and receive in the course of our work is a fundamental compliance responsibility.”
What if no one held the university accountable? Would anyone have known of Meyer’s and Smith’s actions?
Publicly-funded institutions hold special obligation to the general public to be accountable in its operations and transparent in its functions.
Transparency is the best policy, but it requires accountability.