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Coalition for Open Government proposes transparency initiative for new DC mayor

The D.C. Open Government Coalition Nov. 19, presented an Open Government Action Plan to Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, with the hope that her administration would move quickly to implement the five-part transparency initiative.  MDDC participated in the development of this plan.

The Coalition, dedicated to enhancing public access to District government information and proceedings, has been working on the plan since June with public interest groups and transparency advocates inside and outside the District government. The Open Government Action Plan delivered to Bowser, key members of her transition team, current and incoming D.C. Council members, and Attorney General-elect Karl Racine, recommends near-term and long-term actions the new mayor can take to empower the Office of Open Government, strengthen the District’s Freedom of Information and Open Meetings statutes, and greatly increase real-time public access to government data. The goal of these proposals is to promote civic engagement and more responsive, accountable government.

“We are very excited about the release of the Open Government Action Plan and hope it provides a roadmap for Mayor-elect Bowser, the Council and the entire government to take much needed action on several open government issues”, said D.C. Open Government Coalition President Kevin M. Goldberg. “These recommendations are the final product of a process that began last summer and involved more than thirty people from inside and outside of government. We believe they reflect the ideas of a broad cross section of interested and knowledgeable citizens committed to transparency in government.”

The Open Government Action Plan proposes that the new mayor announce a “transparency initiative” — a day-one executive order that strengthens the Office of Open Government’s (OOG) oversight and enforcement of the Open Meetings Act, and expands the Office’s authority over the FOI Act. It recommends longer-term legislative initiatives to amend both statutes, and to make the District a national leader in the “open government data” arena.

Transparency activists in the District formed the D.C. Open Government Coalition in 2009 and has worked since then on legislation that created the Office of Open Government and accomplished a major overhaul of D.C.’s antiquated, ineffective open meetings statute. This is the first time the Coalition has put forward a comprehensive proposal to greatly expand the range of government information open to the public and ensure District residents’ access to their government.

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