Explaining and Exploring the Drivers of Trust in Government

calendar iconSeptember 8, 2023

Americans’ trust in government has been on the decline for decades. In the 1960s, polling from the Pew Research Center showed that more than 70% of Americans believed the Federal Government would do the right thing “just about always.” The same poll today shows that this trust has fallen to around 20%.

There are many factors that contributed to this declining sentiment. Partisan politics is one. Policymakers’ inaction on a host of major national challenges, including climate change, the soaring federal debt and rising healthcare costs, is another.

Our nation’s success depends on restoring trust in its government institutions. Cherry Bekaert Managing Partner of Advisory Services, Srikant Sastry, recently coauthored an editorial on the subject with former White House executive Ed DeSeve. They issue a call to arms, encouraging those working on improving our government to prioritize efforts focused on enhancing efficiency, reliability, transparency and communication.

One of the methods they use to measure progress in this arena is what the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development calls the Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions. The OECD uses this framework to assess the state of trust in governments worldwide. The drivers they look to are: responsiveness, reliability, openness, integrity and fairness.

  • A responsive government provides the benefits and services that citizens need when they need them.
  • A reliable government acts quickly to help its citizens respond to emerging situations, like disasters or evolving technology.
  • An open government is transparent about its activities, finances and decision-making.
  • A government of integrity is free from corruption or fraud.
  • A fair government ensures benefits and services are provided to everyone equitably.

Together, these drivers establish a roadmap that can guide us to restored trust in government. Measurable improvements in government services and transparency in its operations can help strengthen Americans’ faith in the institutions that serve them.

As one of the nation’s largest accounting firms, Cherry Bekaert provides independent, quality, cost-effective and practical advice to clients, including many federal, state and local government agencies. We instill the imperative of restoring trust in government in the services we provide to public institutions, and we advocate for policies and practices that remind American citizens their government deserves our trust. If you have questions or want to learn more about our Government & Public Sector offerings, please contact us.

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