Trustee Pugh on Improving Transparency

foia2016
To the Editor:
Last week, the US Freedom of Information Act turned 35.  In honor of this historic occasion, President Obama signed important transparency reforms into law and directed  federal agencies to work to make “release to one is a release to all”, under which a document requested by a member of the public is published online and made generally available, the presumptive standard under FOIA.
Similar reforms are also under consideration by the Village of Croton.  I have been encouraging the Village to adopt such a progressive policy since first learning of the federal agencies that implemented “release to one, release to all” in the summer of 2015.
The case for  “release to one, a release to all” includes:
1) Transparency—Publishing requested documents online gives the public a better idea of what their government is doing on the public’s behalf.
2) Efficiency—By publishing a requested document online, administrative staff avoids the need to answer future requests for the published document.
More recently, Mayor Greg Schmidt voiced his support for this approach at the April 18, 2016 Village Board meeting.  On June 27th, we held a public work session on adopting a policy of “release to one is a release to all”.
At that work session, members of the staff expressed concern about the administrative burden of “release to one, release to all”.  However, I believe that with modern information technology, such as the many services offered by Google (e.g. Google sites, Google groups, Google drive, etc.), these concerns can be addressed and a more proactive policy adopted at minimal expense or staff effort.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh
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