The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce supports efforts to make government at all levels more transparent, consistent and accountable. As part of our advocacy efforts on this issue, the Chamber has launched a transparency initiative to track the work of local government and to identify ways that openness and access can be improved.
“Open government gives our members and the broader community the ability to be more informed and to influence decisions, which in turn will help build economic equity, equality and accessibility,” said Erin Predmore, the Chamber’s President & CEO.
The City of Bloomington and Monroe County government already take actions related to these goals. Many public meetings, but not all, are recorded by Community Access Television Services (CATS) and are broadcast live or available later on the CATS website. The agendas, packets and meetings for many public meetings, but not all, are posted online. Many meetings, but not all, are noticed in a timely and accessible way.
The Chamber is tracking 82 councils, boards and commissions that govern and advise the City of Bloomington and Monroe County. We are tracking whether meeting minutes, agendas and packets are posted online in a timely way, and whether contact information is posted for these entities. As of January 2020, 45 are in the “red zone,” with up-to-date information unavailable in at least two of the four categories that we’re tracking. We will continue to monitor these groups and post updates on our Transparency in Government site.
We can do better. Here are some ways that local government can improve.
“Elected officials often encourage residents to get involved in local government, but don’t remove the barriers that prevent people from engaging,” Predmore said. “Easier access to information, a true commitment to transparency, and systemic changes are needed as we aspire to more inclusive decision-making for our community.”