The Edmond Sun

Opinion

September 3, 2013

Becoming a national leader in transparency

GUTHRIE — Several years ago, I was told, the Senate debated making government information accessible on the Internet. A very powerful state senator purportedly opposed the proposal because he said if his constituents wanted to see government information badly enough, “They could drive to Oklahoma City and get it themselves.”

This is a perfect illustration of the Oklahoma legislators’ mindset at that time. They knew they could hide information from the taxpayers by making it hard to find, inconvenient to access and by guarding it with red tape and bureaucracy. While the information was technically accessible for all intents and purposes, it might as well have been hidden beneath the Pittsburg County courthouse.

In a few weeks, the House of Representatives Government Modernization Committee will conduct a review of the recently created transparency tools that allow you to hold your government accountable. These tools have been developed in the past few years by the Legislature, the state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

It has been our goal to transform Oklahoma state government from the antiquated black hole of secrecy into a leader of transparency. We are deploying new technologies to give citizens oversight.

As part of this effort, several web portals have been created: OpenBooks.ok.gov allows you to see the government’s spending, Data.ok.gov publishes hundreds of entire sets of state and federal data, Documents.ok.gov contains thousands of documents and Forms.ok.gov provides hundreds of state government forms.

Over the years, not only have we created these sites, we also have followed up on their implementation and added new transparencies. For example, OpenBooks was initially created to publish government spending, but we later added tax credit transparency to the site.

These sites have started attracting national attention. Earlier this year, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group released its 2013 transparency grade. In the past, the group had given Oklahoma a “C” grade on transparency. However, this year, the group upped Oklahoma’s score to an “A”. Oklahoma is one of just seven states to receive an “A” grade.

State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger points to an interesting fact. He states that the grade did not include all the transparency sites. By making a few technical changes in the way the sites are accessed, we may improve both public access and Oklahoma’s transparency grade. Our committee will consider this proposal in its upcoming hearing.

Additionally, in June, the Documents.ok.gov site was designated as a “2012 notable document” by the American Library Association.

The success of these sites may be directly attributed to Doerflinger, State Chief Information Officer Alex Pettit, Libraries Department Director Susan McVey and their staff.

The Government Modernization study will review the success of these initiatives and the need for additional reforms. For example, it appears now as though certain state agencies are not following the laws requiring them to submit their documents to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries where they are made public. If this is the case, it will be our duty to publicly expose the names of the offending agencies.

We have come a long way from the days when Oklahoma politicians sought to thwart transparency, and there is much more reform to come.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

Poll

If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
Undecided
     View Results