Thursday, March 14, 2013

International Sunshine Week -- Making Government Transparent

Sunshine Week
Sunshine Week (Photo credit: Free Press Pics)
Government transparency is the cornerstone of democracy.  As such, it is our collective responsibility to protect our right to a government that is open, and whose business is the business of the people it serves.  Similarly, it is the responsibility of state and local elected officials to work to actively increase the public’s access to public information, to provide opportunities for citizen participation in key decision-making processes and report the results of those decisions back out to constituents.

Governments that create pathways for citizens’ effective engagement and participation typically learn that doing so, enables them to enhance their own performance; by using public feedback to guide their decisions, government leaders can fund and implement programs and services that are reflective of the public’s interest and that are highly impactful at improving their overall quality of life.

I am writing today because this week is International Sunshine Week—an initiative dedicated to educating the public about the importance of open government. As such, I would like to reassert my commitment to fostering a transparent government.

Here in Long Beach, I have been working to identify solutions for increasing government transparency and exploring opportunities that will encourage collaboration and innovation. In January of last year, I led the launch of “Open Up Long Beach,” a government transparency website that aims to provide residents with access to important information, including city budget documents, council agenda items, City departments, and other important resources. 

My council colleagues and I have also initiated several online applications that serve as dynamic two-way communication channels between residents and city staff and implemented new open government policies, requiring that all city contracts be posted online.

California Forward, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, is just one of the many groups throughout the state that are working to bring government closer to the people. This week, they are launching their “Government Transparency Portal,” an online tool that residents can use to access information about the inner workings of their local government as well as others throughout the state.

With the increased use of technology and the internet as well as of dozens of other online innovations, there’s no reason not to be more open and transparent, especially now in the digital age. I support open, transparent local government, and I encourage you to do the same.

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