Government Transparency Center
By “Transparency” we mean a proactive effort to make information accessible to the citizens who finance government through their tax money.
What does Government Transparency mean?
Transparency in government operations has several dimensions.
1. It requires the provision of reliable information on the government’s fiscal policy intentions and forecast.
2. It requires detailed data and information on government operations, like publication of comprehensive budget documents that contain properly classified accounts for the general government and estimates of quasi-fiscal activities conducted outside the government.
3. It requires access to and description of clear procedures.
What does our Government Transparency Center do?
In raw form, a lot of this data doesn’t really mean anything to most people. The information cannot be understood easily because of its complexity and government-specific vocabulary and acronyms. This is where our Government Transparency Center steps in. We interpret and contextualize this raw data and make it easy for others to understand what it really means. Our main work features are:
• Active promotion of “Transparency” related legislation
We will work for bipartisan support of bills such as the Oregon Government Transparency Act.
HB 2500, also known as the Open Books Oregon Project, has been introduced in the 2009 Oregon legislative session to create a comprehensive, searchable website for the state budget. The co-sponsors of the bill are State Representatives Arnie Roblan (D), Jefferson Smith (D), Kim Thatcher (R) and Gene Whisnant (R). The press release quotes Steve Buckstein, Cascade Policy Institute’s Senior Policy Analyst and Founder.
• Maximize public accessibility and expand a culture of “Transparency”
Cascade will take advantage of the Government Transparency Center on its new website, both to make our own transparency data available and to link to existing transparency data portals such as SunshineReview.org. We will promote our site on blogs and seek cross-links to other active limited government sites in the state.
We also plan to embark on a “Culture of Transparency” advertising campaign, running regular ads in local, and possibly statewide, print publications with the theme, “This Is What They Promised…This Is What We Got.” Additionally, we will publish these ads online and use the content in blogs and other media to raise awareness when politicians fail to tell the public that their promises are not being kept.
• Multiply transparency efforts
We already have contacts with national groups such as Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and will continue to reach out to them for assistance and for possible partnerships, when appropriate. We also will reach out to local citizen groups in Oregon and pool together our information on Government Transparency and make them available in one website. We will reach out to citizens who have had wearisome experiences with government agencies and make their stories public.