La Plata government agencies inspected

From The Durango Herald:  In recognition of Sunshine Week, The Durango Herald asked three municipalities, three school districts, La Plata County government and Fort Lewis College to provide purchasing invoices, credit card payments and items that went to bid for the entire month of March 2015.

The purpose of the open records request was not so much to examine the finances of these public institutions – although we will do that – as it was to gauge how they comply with an expansive open records request.

Sunshine Week, March 13-19, is a national initiative that aims to “promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information,” according to organizers, including the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, said taxpayers have a reasonable expectation to know how their money is spent, and getting fairly detailed information about individual purchases increases transparency.

Some government entities make purchasing information available on their websites, which means no open records request has to be made, Roberts said.

“That’s the type of information that government should be keeping in a very organized way,” he said. “It shouldn’t be difficult for a government to provide that information.”

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