Opinion: The CORA buck stops nowhere

From The Colorado Statesman:  Last November, the State Integrity Investigation released its report card grading the 50 states on various measures of good government. Colorado placed 13th overall, receiving high marks for our budget and auditing processes. Despite our ranking among the states, many of Colorado’s grades were embarrassing. Colorado placed 44th for ethics enforcement, below even some states that don’t have ethics commissions, with a failing grade. The state also placed 34th, with a letter grade of “F,” for public access to documents.

The State Integrity Investigation is an analysis of state government transparency and accountability conducted by the Center for Public Integrity. The project highlights areas that lead to decreased citizen confidence in government and increased risk of corruption.

The reasons for Colorado’s low score on access to public information are many. Too many documents are available only in hard copy or PDF, not in an open data format that could be easily used by citizens. Official calendars of public officials are difficult to obtain; in practice, one must file open records requests to receive heavily redacted versions of public officials’ calendars. Charges for access to public records, though recently capped by statute, remain high.

Perhaps the biggest problem with access to public records, however, is that there is no particular public official with general supervisory responsibility over public records requests. The State Integrity Investigation compared Colorado unfavorably to other states that have an entity responsible “to monitor the application of access to information laws” like Iowa’s Public Information Board. Instead, the only recourse for Coloradans who disagree with a public entity’s objection to providing records is to file a lawsuit in state district court.

Visit The Colorado Statesman for more.

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