Telling the truth in public policy: an analysis of New Zealand sport policy discourse

In this article we use Foucault’s conception of games of truth to investigate how truth in public policy is rhetorically constructed through the notion of “transparency.” Data was collected from various public sources regarding a medal target policy promoted by Sport and Recreation New Zealand (Sparc) for the national team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. By analyzing the multifarious rhetoric surrounding the medal target policy, we show that the notion of transparency, although ostensibly appealing and helpful as a mechanism to justify goals, exposes inherent contradictions that were counter to Sparc’s goals. The discussion encourages scholars and practitioners to conceive of policy as ongoing contests over truth. We suggest that practitioners might benefit from considering the problematic implications of promoting “transparent” public policy.