During last year’s legislative session, I served as the House author for Senate Bill 1759 which was sponsored in the Senate by state Senator Anthony Sykes. Our goal was to codify what may be the first in the nation’s Government 2.0 legislation to be approved at the state level.
The bill established the data.ok.gov web portal. This site is the framework through which all kinds of government data will be pushed out to the public so they can hold government accountable. This includes government expenditures, the state payroll, tax credit transparency, and data which is commonly requested through open records requests. You can currently view these data feeds and much more at this website.
This year, I am sponsoring House Bill 1086 with state Senator Clark Jolley. This bill is designed to build on the Government 2.0 framework and make state government processes easier to review and access.
The bill will establish a web presence at the documents.ok.gov web address where citizens will be able to review and search government documents. Every year, state agencies, committees and task forces are required to publish publications containing various reports and performance data. They also generate reports showing how taxpayer savings could be realized through the implementation of reforms. These publications are initially circulated among state officials before invariably being sent to the state archives where they sit on library shelves until they are relevant for little more than historical reference. If the elected officials do not respond to these reports, they are at risk of being completely overlooked by the public and the media under this less-than transparent system.
House Bill 1086 mandates that these reports be placed online in a searchable format. This will allow members of the public to search through these reports by keyword. This was an idea initially requested by the group Oklahomans for Responsible Government (OFRG) during the last legislative interim.
Another convenience offered by HB 1086 is a web portal through which citizens can access government forms. There are likely hundreds of forms produced by government agencies, and you have probably experienced the frustration of needing to submit a form, only to embark on the major chore of looking through a labyrinth of agency web pages seeking a specific form. Forms.ok.gov would serve as a one-stop location where the public can search for a form by form number or keyword and find the document they need. This is especially important for business owners who need to focus on their business instead of trying to figure out how to navigate through complicated bureaucratic processes.
The bill also establishes a portal through which citizens can view geo-data on an overlay of the map of their choice. This resource is currently online and you can view it at hd31.org/74. The current site includes an incredible amount of useful information in one location. For example, political boundaries such as state, county, school and fire districts are denoted so that citizens can quickly learn in which political jurisdiction a property is located. The bill will make the portal the official one-stop shop for state geo-data and enable the state’s geographic information office to push state agency geo-data to the public through this site which will be made available at the maps.ok.gov web address.
The bill also allows the development of state employee performance metrics for publication on the data.ok.gov site -- the publication of public school expenditures, state revolving fund balances, and detailed state expenditure data are all included.
A number of other transparency components are included in this legislation which I plan to write about in future updates.
The bill has been approved by the House of Representatives, a Senate committee and awaits additional consideration in the Senate.