Transparent Accounting

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* Article: Transparent Accounting. Robert L. Read and Mike McCune, 2003



"Better accounting can make for better accountability.

In this article we suggest ways to make accounting better by applying the principles that have informed the free and open-source software movements to both the technology and business of accounting. Our goal is to stimulate thought on new interfaces and business models, that, if tried, may provide more convenient and more trustworthy accounting. We hope individuals will receive the benefit of cheaper, more convenient, and more reliable bookkeeping. We hope charities, governments, and large businesses will receive the benefit or cheaper, safer bookkeeping that will allow them to be better trusted by doing more of their business in the light of public scrutiny and private auditing without additional costs.

We are argue that accounts, as individual parts of bookkeeping systems, should be treated as first-class citizens of the modern internetworked world, on par with email addresses, domain names, hosts, and ip addresses. There should be open standards for bookkeeping systems that allow the work of keeping books to be shared across the internet. Even more importantly, there should be standards and business models that allow the responsibility of bookkeeping to be shared across many different parties, each with independent purposes, which we argue will produce more reliable and transparent bookkeeping. We furthermore humbly submit to the reader that the current point in time and technological development is a fulcrum about which a relatively small amount of work in terms of defining open standards, writing open software, and developing business models, may initiate a sea-change in accounting practices." (