Welcome to OnsideBuffalo - "OnSide" Buffalo Oklahoma - Buffalo Blog -of the town of Buffalo Oklahoma

Late Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson said,
"It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error."

This blog is for people to share their thoughts and ideas on things of interest in this town of Buffalo Oklahoma.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Transparent Government

Here is a REPORT that is based on transparent government. This was written by Oklahomans for Responsible Government. It is geared towards our schools and their websites. In this report are some ideas that would also serve the common good of our community and its municipal government. It would be nice to someday see these guidelines implemented by the Town of Buffalo if it should ever decide to become pro-active.

I have copied ideas and suggestions from this report that would apply to the Town of Buffalo bringing a higher standard that could easily be achieved with a little effort.

From the Report;

Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent in order to let elected officials know if that is the right way or another direction is needed.

Technology makes it easier for government entities to provide transparency, but only if they take advantage of everything that computers and the World Wide Web have to offer. It is up to taxpayers to let their leaders know that transparency is important and that technology is the most cost-effective way to provide the information to anyone who wants to view it at any time of the day.

The Internet is often the first place someone turns to in order to find out about a subject, so every government entity whether federal, state or local needs to have a presence on the web. But even a website is just the first step; it’s the content of that website that matters most. The best government websites are simply laid out, well organized and packed with information like how to contact elected officials, a budget or meeting schedules.

Complete information regarding contracts.

Board members were listed; there was no contact information or details on election dates or boundaries. Board members are the direct link between a taxpayer and the money being spent and as an elected official, they should have their contact information on the web where it is easily accessible.

The feature common to the most websites was contact information for administrators. Many also had the most recent board agenda online, but that is not enough. If someone wants to figure out exactly when a topic was considered by the board, there needs to be an archive of past agendas. Very few districts had minutes of past meetings posted. This needs to be corrected to hold the board members accountable for their votes.

Nothing about a budget or how to contact board members.

The budget for the current fiscal year plus previous years should be easily accessed.

Websites should list the date, time and location of every board meeting for the year. Agendas and minutes of past meetings should be posted online as well. Regulations covering public input at meetings should be clearly displayed.

Elected officials: Members of the board should have their names and contact information posted on the website. Each member should also have the term of their office and date of next election posted as well as the boundaries of their ward/district. If the board has committees, those committees and their members should be listed as well. It would help taxpayers if any financial disclosures and conflict-of-interest statements required of its elected officials are posted.

Public records: The website should include comprehensive information on how taxpayers can obtain public documents. That means listing which employee handles the request and what fees, if any, there are for copies of documents. It would also be nice if it posted an annual rating of its FOIA compliance: How many requests did it receive in a given year, how many it complied with, the average time required for compliance, and reasons for denials. If currently being sued for failure to provide public documents, this information should be included.

Post its policy on criminal background checks of current and/or prospective employees. The policy should include how often criminal background checks are conducted and what procedures are followed when it learns of past or current criminal conduct on the part of staff.

Check out this report to find your school's website evaluation