Open Government: The City’s View is Only Part of the Equation

The Mayor of Coral Gables, Mr. Donald Slesnick, in this year’s State of the City address, refers to the openness of the government of the city of Coral Gables.

He says

We continue to have one of the most open governments in Florida, thanks to our E- News, streaming video, webpage portal, emergency AM radio station and Channel 77/CGTV.

This is  only about one-third of “open government”; it means at least three things–transparency, participation and collaboration.  Coral Gables has made an effort at the first and there is little or no participation and collaboration promoted in city government (except for that required by law in boards and hearings).

I cite a memorandum of President Barack Obama on transparency and open government.

Government should be transparent.  Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.  Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

Government should be participatoryPublic engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.

Government should be collaborative.  Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector.  Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.

It may be hoped that a new generation of commissioners will have a better understanding and application of “open government.”

About Stephen E. McGaughey
Resident of the City of Coral Gables

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