An article in this morning’s Times Union reviews Governor Pataki’s record on agency disclosure in state government.
The article notes that while the paper had to take legislative leaders to court to force them to disclose member item spending, Pataki was more forthcoming and provided details of his own discretionary spending without litigation.
Also highlighted is Pataki’s support for three bills during his tenure that strengthened the Freedom of Information Law. Pataki has also overseen improvements of agency websites that allow the public to access government documents.
We applaud Governor Pataki for his modest but important moves to make government more transparent and urge Governor-elect Spitzer to build on this legacy. With Spitzer’s strong stance on government reform and accountability, we expect that he will indeed pick up the mantle of making government agencies more accessible to the public.
Like the Times Union, though, we also hope to see the leadership in the Senate and Assembly work harder to make the legislative process more open and accountable. We know first hand, from the research on our latest report, that obtaining documents from the Legislature can be frustrating, expensive, and time-consuming, even for an organization with a full-time staff.
We strongly believe that both the executive and legislative branches should build an online system for providing important government documents to ordinary New Yorkers.