How Open Government Happens

Terms such as “transparency” and “open government” fall trippingly from the tongues of elected officials and bureaucrats.   Still, the intricacies of assuring open government present a mighty challenge to persistent advocates.  Today’s headlines describing the inappropriate handling of public records exacerbate the situation.

On the one hand, drastic cutbacks among the ranks of investigative journalists leave a media void when it comes to consistent and informed coverage of  access issues.  At the same time, the complexities of setting policies and procedures appropriate to ensure transparency in the information age is a daunting task for lawmakers and their staffs, not to mention the local officials obligated to implement the laws.

The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI) tries to keep tabs on the maze of open government issues that creep quietly onto the legislative agenda while more sexy issues capture the attention of the media and the public.

MNCOGI is sponsoring a public meeting on Monday, January 28, to cast a light on pending transparency issues and on those still percolating on the back burner of an interest group.  The meeting is 2:00-3:30 in Meeting Room 118 at the Minnesota State Capitol.  Free and open to the public.

Topics on the agenda range from License Plate Recognition Data to citizen e-mails submitted to municipalities to the definition of “public official” and enforcement of the present Data Practices Act.

The principles and state legislative issues that MNCOGI is currently monitoring are spelled out on the website of the nonprofit advocacy organization.

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