This week March 11th is Sunshine Week, a national initiative which promotes the importance of open government and freedom of information.
Communities across the country are adopting open government policiesthat commit to putting more government data and information on-line. Information such as building permits, restaurant health inspections, and crime statistics are readily available in many counties and cities. Among Western New York local governments such information is not as easy to access.
Many local government web sites need improvement as documented by an organization named Sunshine Review, which evaluates and grades government web sites.
Sunshine Review provides the following grades for the City of Buffalo and County of Erie:
City of Buffalo C
Erie County B-
You can check out the rating received for your local governments web site as well.
Governor Cuomo recently issued an Executive Order requiring state agencies to:
- publish their data on-line
- requiring every agency/department to designate a Chief Data Officer to be responsible for complying with the Executive Order
- establishment of a Data Working Group to assist in carrying out the Executive Order
- Within 6 months, each state entity shall create a catalog of their available data and propose a schedule for making such information available to the public
- an Open Data Handbook will be created by the state’s Information Technology Department and the Data Working Group to assist state agencies/departments
Your Town Supervisor, Mayor and County Executive could also issue a similar directive to the departments and agencies they oversee. Your Town Board, City Council and County Legislature could also pass an Open Government Policy directing the departments and agencies that they oversee to make more information available to the public.