The Utah Transparency Project is a local initiative to improve the transparency of local governments statewide. Headed by students at the University of Utah and partnering with community leaders, the project is in its infancy. We intend to have local governments officially adopt a set of "Best Practices" for transparency. Beginning with a media kickoff event on April 11, we will launch a media campaign to garner public support and encourage local governments to accept the “Best Practices.”
These "Best Practices" have been submitted to local Utah governments for adoption. Feel free to read them over and comment.
FIVE TRANSPARENCY BEST PRACTICES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
1. [CITY/COUNTY] WILL ESTABLISH A SINGLE “OPEN GOVERNMENT” WEBPAGE WHICH
· complies with the attached 10 point Transparency checklist recommended by Sunshine Review and endorsed by the Sutherland Institute;
· serves as a searchable, sortable and downloadable in bulk central repository for all public government information accessible in 3 links or less;
· contains a searchable index or catalog of all government information;
· publishes on at least an annual basis, if not more frequently, commonly requested data sets such as employee compensation, contracts with third-parties, police and fire requests for service, financial reports and audits;
· contains an annual report (a) documenting the progress the city/county is making toward implementation of these Best Practices and (b) assessing and evaluating how the city/county is meeting its legal obligations under the Government Records Access Management Act, the Utah Open & Public Meeting Act, the Transparency in Government Act, the various statutes mandating the giving of public and legal notices and other applicable state or local transparency or disclosure laws or ordinances;
· provides an interactive forum for citizens to suggest ideas to promote transparency and otherwise improve the city’s information collection, retention, aggregation, validation and dissemination practices;
· provides access to all city ordinances, rules, codes, policies and procedures in a searchable format;
· employs an authentication and date/time stamping mechanism disclosing how recent the information is and who is responsible for maintaining and updating the information and that person’s contact information; and
· contain an organizational chart and description of the government’s departments, divisions and other administrative units together with contact information.
2. GOVERNMENT INFORMATION WILL BE COLLECTED, GENERATED AND MAINTAINED IN A DIGITAL FORM AND MADE AVAILABLE ON THE OPEN GOVERNMENT WEBPAGE
· in a timely, complete and non-discriminating manner;
· in appropriate open formats;
· with authoritative sourcing;
· in computer discoverable, searchable and readable forms;
· without unnecessary administrative obstacles;
· at no cost to the public;
· with no licensing or terms of service conditions;
· with the finest possible level of granularity ;
· at a stable internet location indefinitely.
3. EMAILS, INSTANT MESSAGES AND OTHER ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS MADE WITH GOVERNMENT SUPPLIED EQUIPMENT WILL BE CONSIDERED PUBLIC RECORDS AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED IN U.C.A. §63-G-2-103 (21) & (22).
4. ELECTED OFFICIALS AND NON-ELECTED SENIOR ADMINISTRATORS WILL
· Post reasonably in advance their schedule of public events and meetings;
· maintain privacy settings as “open” or “public” on Facebook or other social networking sites where the official/administrator posts or discusses [city/county] related business;
· commit to developing a culture of transparency among employees and other officials which permeates all levels of government.
5. POLICY AND DELIBERATIVE BODIES WILL STRIVE TO MAKE ALL
PUBLIC MEETINGS TRULY TRANSPARENT BY
· streaming their public meetings live on the internet either through a videocast or an audio podcast;
· recording their public meetings and posting video or audio online within 48 hours;
· allowing citizen comment/participation via a synchronous remote connection; and
· posting online all agenda materials reasonably anticipated to be discussed or distributed at a meeting at least 24 hours in advance.
Think Tank Report Published: Download your copy to see the Think Tank's full report on both the privacy and transparency team projects. See the Think Tank page for more info.
April 18 - Student representatives met with UAC advocating adoption of the best pracitces. Citing concerns relating to costs and burdens, the council has taken the matter "under advisement."
Thank You to all those who made the kickoff a sucess.
April 11 - Kick off for The Project's Campaign will be at the Hinckley Caucus Room on the campus of the University of Utah at 2:00pm
Check out the Best Practices and comment.