Report follows meetings across the State of Oregon and comprehensive review of government transparency laws across the country
Attorney General John Kroger today released a Government Transparency Report emphasizing that Oregon's nearly 40-year old public records and public meetings laws need major reforms.
"Oregon received an 'F' in a 2007 study of government transparency in the fifty states," said Deputy Attorney General Mary Williams. "Oregonians across the state agree with that assessment."
After taking office last year, Attorney General Kroger determined it was time to reform Oregon's Public Records Law. Accordingly, he launched a systematic review to identify weak points and suggest improvements. Those improvements will be part of an ambitious government transparency package that will be introduced in the 2011 legislative session.
In addition to conducting a thorough review of state and federal sunshine laws, the Attorney General sponsored six public meetings across Oregon to gather suggestions for improving transparency from the public, government officials and the media. The conclusion was clear: Oregon's law is clogged with hundreds of confusing exemptions and requests for records are often met with high fee requirements and long delays.
The meetings were co-sponsored by the Oregon Department of Justice and the Oregon Newspaper Publishers' Association.
During this process, the Attorney General received hundreds of suggestions and comments. Most of the comments relate to four areas of concern: timelines for responding to public records requests; fees; exemptions; and public meetings.
The purpose of today's report is to catalogue the most pressing problems with Oregon's public records and public meetings laws and highlight some potential solutions. By noting the vast public dissatisfaction with the law, the report points to an urgency for reform. The report also demonstrates that neither the public seeking access to open government nor the agencies responsible for delivering it are happy with the status quo.
Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department's mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, promote a positive business climate, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.
Tony Green, (503) 378-6002 firstname.lastname@example.org