Government information is vital for an informed citizenry. Information needs to be factual, secure and readily available to everyone.
Some good research paper topics on government information are mistrust of local and federal government information, technology trends and data security of information, and access to information.
Mistrust of government information
A good research paper topic is to discuss why some people distrust information that comes from the government. The government should be a moral, trustworthy entity with the concern of its people paramount. However, in many instances, the government lies or is indifferent when problems arise. For example, in Flint, Michigan, the local government and the federal Environmental Protect Agency failed to properly inform the town of hazardous drinking water. The decision to move Flint’s water source and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) decision not to apply federally mandated corrosion-control treatment resulted in untreated water corroding lead pipes and lead getting into the drinking water.
Reporting in “The Hand-in-Hand Spread of Mistrust and Misinformation in Flint” in American Scientist January 1, 2017, Siddhartha Roy said MDEQ cheated on water tests, rejected findings by outside researchers and betrayed the public’s trust by insisting the contaminated water was safe to drink. After the water was discovered unsafe, citizens understandably mistrusted the information their local government was giving them. This was particularly unfortunate after filters for the lead were installed and scientific tests proved the water was now safe. Trust in government information was irrevocably lost. Roy wrote, “This atmosphere enabled misinformation campaigns that spread harmful falsehoods about the water’s quality…Consequently, a few residents who had previously been betrayed, turned against scientifically valid advice no matter who offered it.”
Data security in government information
For your research paper, you could write on the importance of technology in collecting and disseminating government information. Technology improvements in discovery tools, data access and analysis are new trends assisting government agencies in handling vast amounts of data. In “3 trends for government data analytics,” posted in GCN December 22, 2015, Mark DeRosa said that data simplification is necessary today. “Improving data access and usage are at the top of the list for most agencies. They want the average end user to have an easier time retrieving and analyzing data… Discovery tools are helping users quickly transform raw data into meaningful information,” he said.
Other trends are data transparency, in which open-data initiatives and websites like Data.gov allow people with Internet access and a data discovery tool to download information from government sites to use in their reports and research. Also, data security must always be vigilant and updated as more people can access more government information. Security protocols must adapt and evolve so they can address the most common vulnerabilities at various levels and entry points.
Access to government information
For your research paper, you can explain ways of gaining access to government information. The article “Trends on Tuesday: 40% of Smartphone Users Look up Government Information” by Will Sullivan posted on Digitialgov.gov April 7, 2015, discussed a Pew Research Center study that revealed trends that can help government agencies provide access to government information. The study found that a majority of 18-64 year olds use their smartphone to share and learn about community and local news events. They also look up health information, breaking news, disaster news and government services. A growing number of citizens “need to be able to access [government agency] digital content and properties by mobile devices because they have no other easily accessible options,” said Sullivan.
For more information, check out Questia’s library on Government Information.
How do you access government information, and do you think it’s reliable?