The Oregon Legislature’s interest in improving government transparency is as shallow as it can be to keep up appearances.
The latest evidence is in the fate of House Bill 2431. The bill is a product of the committee the Legislature set up to take a look at government transparency. And the Legislature is treating a bill the committee recommended like it is unworthy of passage, according to an article in The Oregonian.
The bill would require state agencies to take a basic step toward a better understanding of how well they comply with state law with public records. State agencies would be required to publicly disclose the number of records requests received, the number not completed according to the law, the number not completed in 60 days and the number of requests in which an agency denied or approved a reduction or waiver in the fee.
Some agencies track requests carefully. Some do not. But it’s hard to get good information about how the state is doing overall in complying with records requests without reliable data for every state agency.
Anecdotes that journalists and other members of the public can come up with are one thing. Good data is another.
Why not require it? The bill even exempts the Legislature and the judicial branch. Legislators already aren’t bound by the same public records requirements, anyway. The uncertain fate of this bill is just another sign they don’t care so deeply about transparency.