Transparency redux, with progress

For more of my commentary on life in Richmond, Indiana check out RichmondMatters.com.
(Please note, because of the time that has passed since I wrote this article, it may no longer reflect my current views or the most accurate and complete information available on this subject.)

A month ago I blogged about some specific examples of what it would mean for local government and related organizations to be more transparent in their operations.  I also sent a copy of my remarks to nine local elected officials asking for comment, and only two replied.

But, there have been a couple of noteworthy developments since that post:

  • At the end of June, Richmond Common Council President Phil Quinn relaunched his blog, where he has started to include copies of Agendas and Ordinances for upcoming Council meetings.  Phil's site is a mix of reflections on personal, professional and governmental activities and allows for comments from readers; this is a great complement to Phil's already extensive (but private) community interactions on Facebook, and I hope he and other Council members continue to use publicly-accessible sites like this to engage with their constituents about issues before Council.  Knowing that maintaining this kind of site takes some time, please contact Phil to encourage his efforts.
  • There's an article on the Palladium-Item website today noting that the City of Richmond has a firm plan in place to relaunch the City's website by the end of 2012.  It sounds like the site will be a great starting point to post the kinds of information we need for transparent government, and will also have some great "self-service" features for local residents to use.  I hope that they refer to this checklist for what a transparent City government's website should have on it.  (Again, full disclosure: my company Summersault was invited to bid on this project, but we determined that our services and approach were not a good fit for the project’s requirements, and declined to submit a proposal.)

Per my original post, there's still a lot more that can be done here, but I really appreciate those who are advancing efforts to make the workings of government more accessible.

I'd also like to recommend the June 29th episode of On The Media, which has a great segment that addresses the difference between making some data available versus making USEFUL data available when it comes to seeking transparency in government.

One thought on “Transparency redux, with progress

  1. I would like to see town hall meetings where we can actually ask questions and not be told to keep silent in that public setting. There is always an excuse that our elected officials cannot discuss things that are taking place. I feel they hide behind those statements and are not being held accountable. Term limits would be nice. Too much time in office equals too much power. It is time to get some new people in office that actually care about us and are not self-serving. Unfortunately, the RP&L utility is going downhill fast by the choices that have been made in the recent months. We deserve better and so do the employees of RP&L. Is the RP&L board controlled by the few that have been in power for so long? Do the new board members even make them accountable, or do they just go along with those who have been in control for many years. The new members are responsible to ask questions and seek answers on their own and not be bullied into agreement.

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