Government disclosure refers to the act of public entities making information available. In many cases, when information is shared it is not merely a matter of good will, but rather a matter of law. In the United States (US), for example, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides individuals with a wide range of rights regarding access to information about government offices, their affairs and their employees. Complying with these regulations does not always work in the favor of the current administration, political parties, and others who are actively involved with government.
In a democratic society, government and its agents are supposed to be servants of the people. It is commonly held that those entities are most likely to act in the best interest of the citizens that they serve when there is transparency. For this reason, in many developed nations, government entities are bound by strict policies that grant the public rights to most of the information that relates to public entities. These rights do not, however, extend to information that is classified.
In the US, all federal government agencies are subject to FOIA. This means that all, except a small classified portion, of each agency's affairs is public information. Upon request, agencies are obligated to provide members of the public with responses to questions or access to the information they request. This can be information about expenditures, employee activities, or department policies.
FOIA also makes it mandatory for these governmental bodies to make certain information public without request. Although state governments may have policies that vary from those of the federal government, most have similar transparency regulations. This sort of government disclosure is believed to be highly beneficial to the people. It can help keep government offices honest and efficient and help citizens determine which areas of government are effective or ineffective.
It does not always, however, work in the interest of an administration or a political party. Information that is revealed to the public can influence election results, move citizens to pressure officials to act on a certain matter, or create civil unrest. This is likely to be part of the reason why development and good government disclosure tend to be related. In less developed countries, where there is a great deal of corruption, cronyism, and other injustice, it is common to find a lack of willingness to share information with the public, even if government disclosure laws exist.