Every state in the country is dealing with the health crisis differently. Local governments are finding ways to keep cities running while the staff is stretched thin. As a result, many state and local governments have reduced access to public records that have details about key government decisions.
Public officials have said employees either don’t have the time or ability to compile the requested documents or data because they are too busy responding to the outbreak or are working from home instead of at government offices.
The result is that citizens may be in dark about how decisions are being made that affect their lives. Some governors have issued decrees allowing record requests to be put on hold for as long as the health emergency continues. Others have extended response deadlines by days, weeks, or even months. Governors from Washington to Michigan to Rhode Island also have used their executive powers to waive or extend response deadlines for open-records requests.
For open-government advocates, this is a challenging time.
In order to avoid waste, fraud, and abuse, it’s essential the press and public have access to records and information to hold accountable those who have the power to spend the billions of dollars states are receiving to address the issues from COVID19.
“The public records law exists to give people the ability to hold their government accountable, and without timely access to information, they can’t do it,” said Attorney Brian Black, executive director of The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest.
While many local governments are holding virtual public meetings, the public is still not receiving information that pertains to their health and livelihoods because states have declared a “State of Emergency” which limits access to information.
“Things like that are especially problematic, because we have no idea when these states of emergencies are going to end,” said Gunita Singh, an attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, based in Washington, D.C. “Who knows how long these individual requesters are going to be waiting to have their public records requests fulfilled?”
With AV Capture All meeting management solutions, we make it easy for local Governments to keep constituents informed and engaged. Our Live-Streaming solutions are secure and easy to use and let’s local governments stay engaged with the public during this unprecedented time.
AV Capture– Legislative Solution is used to record Audio and Video while integrating Agendas, Minutes, and Related Documents. The document content is synchronized with the Audio/Video stream, then indexed and immediately searchable when published online. Once published, staff and citizens can view any part of the Audio/Video-on-demand, while following along with the synchronized Agenda, Minutes and Related Documents. Live Streaming is also integrated into the platform to allow staff and citizens who cannot attend the meeting in-person to view online from home.
AV Capture is here to ensure the gears of government continue to work and the public is informed.