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Open government isn't just a federal concern

February 22, 2013

Open and transparent government initiatives are a popular topic on the federal level, but federal agencies aren't the only offices that need to invest in high-quality solutions. State, city and county councils need to make the effort to promote openness and transparency through normal operations. According to The Atlantic, openness even becomes an issue of states' rights in some cases.

A case was recently argued before the Supreme Court regarding whether or not a state can restrict access to its "open records" system to citizens within its borders. McBurney vs. Young presents an issue that affects any individuals that work, live or own property across state lines, or even those who have recently moved. The challengers in the case argue that open records policies are an essential aspect of life and a "building block of national citizenship and interstate commerce," according to the news source. Yet the state of Virginia argues that state records are only a local concern and don't need to be available nationwide.

Virginia and Tennessee are the only two states that restrict access to government records in this way, and proponents of full openness argue that accountability falls under the "privileges and immunities" clause of the Constitution and that states cannot discriminate between citizens of their own state and those outside its borders. The question becomes - is a local government only accountable to its voters, or the nation at large?

One of the major influences for transparency and open government efforts is cost. For many states, counties and town councils, investing in the technology to provide broad, free access to meeting minutes, budget information and the like can be expensive, and in order to balance their budget, they need to weight the best investments for taxpayer's dollars. However, there are cost-effective solutions for meeting management and more that can enhance open government solutions without increasing a municipality's budget.

IQM2's meeting management solution implements effective practices for automatically organizing and storing local records, minimizing administrative efforts and focusing on making the data available, not managing it. By investing in this software, a town, city or state can enhance overall operations and give back to citizens more effectively, ensuring engagement and approval rather than risking court cases and complaints of unfair data access.