Transparency and Government Accountability Act

Transparency and Government Accountability Act

                                                                                                                               

Summary

“Transparency” is government’s obligation to share information with citizens that is needed to make informed decisions and hold officials accountable for the conduct of the people’s business.

Transparency exists on government websites largely at the munificence of officials.  The burden of negotiating complex and costly Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) petitions rests squarely on the shoulders of citizens and journalists.  Despite “sunshine” laws and much pro-transparency rhetoric, information requests by journalists and citizens are routinely ignored, given the bureaucratic “slow roll” and discouraged by inflated price tags for staff time and copying.

FOIAs and official goodwill are insufficient in securing citizens and journalists information they need and have a right to review.

Therefore, this act affirms that the government of the state of {insert state} has a duty to affirmatively disclose certain information, in a timely manner, and to shift the burden from citizens and journalists to the state, to share all information necessary, so that citizens may hold their elected officials accountable.

Model Legislation

 {Title, enacting clause, etc.}

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF {insert state} DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. {Severability clause}

The State of {insert state} shall maintain an official, searchable website accessible to all citizens that affirmatively discloses all appropriate information as described in subsections (a through i).  The state website shall use a consistent website domain and present all information in “plain English”.  The state website shall have an easy-to-understand interface and shall be well organized, easy to navigate and without tedious plug-in downloads.

The state website shall post all open meetings laws,  notices about public meetings, committees and  boards, minutes of past meetings, a schedule, and meeting agendas for future and past meetings, and

(A) Budget information, including:

(1)            All budgets, current and historic

(2)            Graphs showing spending and revenue over time

(3)            A check register including:

(a)    The amount of the payment

(b)   Date

(c)    Check number

(d)   To whom the payment was made (including the address)

(e)    What it was for

(f)    Budgetary authority for the expenditure

(g)   Functional expenditure category

(h)   Sources of funds

(i)     Links to the relevant contracts under which the payment was made

(B)  Elected officials information, including:

(1)            Contact information for all elected officials

(2)            Terms of office and date of next election

(3)            Voting record

(4)            Party affiliation

(5)            Conflict of interest rules

(6)            Committee appointments

(C) Administrative official information, including:

(1)            Contact information for all appointed administrators

(2)            Terms of office

(3)            Governing boards and by laws for agencies

(4)            Party Affiliation

(5)            Conflict of interest rules

(D) Ethics information, including:

(1)            Ethics commission and guidelines for ethical behavior of state officials

(2)            Process for reporting ethics violations

(3)            Status of current investigations and results of investigations

(E) Audit information, including:

(1)            Status of regular audits of state agencies and departments, including the Governor and  the  Assembly

(2)            Audit results

(3)            Schedule of all financial audits

(4)            Performance audits for state programs

(D) Contract information, including:

(1)            Rules governing contracts

(2)            Bids and contracts for purchases over $10,000

(3)            Vendor campaign contributions and the vendor contract

(E) Lobbying information, including:

(1)            Disclosure of state-paid lobbying activity

(2)            Database of registered lobbyists

(3)            Agency lobbying contracts
(4)            All grants given to non-profit organizations, reason for the grant and a contact in the organization responsible for oversight

(F) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) information, including:

(1)            FOIA contact for every state agency/department in one central location

(2)            Department/Agency FOIA officer posted on Department homepage

(3)            Annual compliance survey performed measuring, number of FOIAs submitted,  number fulfilled,  average time for compliance and reasons for denials

(G) Tax information, including:

(1)   Central location for all tax information, including state “fees” such as drivers’ licenses.

(2)    Agency disclosure of all sources of revenue

 

Section 2 {Repealer clause.}

 

Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors, September 19, 2010.

 

 

Keyword Tags: Transparency