Opinion: Transparent government

POSTED: 08/14/14 11:40 PM

Dear Editor,

On July 17, Mr. Gerard Richardson responded to my opinion letter about edu-tourism. I appreciate his step to respond in an open manner to an average citizen via the media. In return, please allow me to respond to the opinion letter published in your newspaper on July 24, called Open Government by Richardson.

Wikipedia gives the following definition of open government: “Open government is the governing doctrine which holds that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight.” In his letter Mr. Richardson is going a step further than just having access to documents. He is using terms like informing the people and withholding nothing. I would like to go another step further: We need to train and educate government’s staff (civil servants) to such a level that it doesn’t make a difference who you talk to, because the staff being so well prepared and knowledgeable about their duty and the laws and proceedings that come with it that everybody is streamlined to the goal of costumer (resident) satisfaction.

When it comes to informing the people and withholding nothing it should not be limited to the media and residents asking questions, but there should be a proactive approach on informing the people. Disseminate information also when people don’t ask for it. The combination of a high level performing civil servant apparatus and an informed people will reduce not only the mentioned frustration and aggravation, but also the level of transparency.

Wikipedia further reads: “Transparency in government is often credited with generating government accountability. Transparency often allows citizens of a democracy to control their government, reducing government corruption, bribery and other malfeasance. Some commentators contend that an open, transparent government allows for the dissemination of information, which in turn helps produce greater knowledge and societal progress. This statement is supporting my position on a more proactive approach. I would like the candidates that are participating in the upcoming elections to be more outspoken about the accessibility to government, the simplifying of procedures, and equal treatment. This will all add up to a more transparent government, one that can easier be held accountable by the people.

Editor, in closing I want to emphasize once again that I don’t want to hear about who is paying who to wear a shirt for ten dollars or putting on a clowns act with a broom and dustpan. I have addressed several points over the past weeks that have my interest and I am still not convinced who I should choose to represent me.

Andrew Smith

 

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