Let's get that grade up
Comprehensive public disclosure is mandatory for any government that wants to call itself democratic. Yet transparency often proves elusive.
The Sunlight Foundation, which monitors government transparency, has released its annual openness report on state governments, in conjunction with Sunshine Week.
It rates state laws and procedures for completeness, timeliness, ease of electronic access, machine readability and permanence of records that are posted online.
Pennsylvania scored in the middle of the scale with a "C", but only seven states achieved an "A".
Part of the problem is the failure of the state government to keep up with technology. Another is the provision of large amounts of unsearchable digital data that often proves useless.
In Pennsylvania, factors precluding greater transparency are solvable, requiring politicians assigning a higher priority to disclosure. A case in point is the practice of allowing state-office candidates to file campaign finance reports by mail on the last day of the reporting period, sometimes precluding their publication before the election. State law should require electronic filing, which would ensure pre-election public access.
A greater focus on transparency also would enable state lawmakers and administrators to overcome the technological obstacles to better disclosure.
State lawmakers should use the Sunlight Foundation findings to shoot for an "A" rating.