Government transparency has been a buzzword in politics for the past few years. Do you believe that Pennsylvania’s administrative agencies, including the Office of the Governor, are transparent enough? If not, what needs to change?
I know government is strongest when it is operating in a transparent manner, promoting public participation, and encouraging collaboration among all levels of government and with residents, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
I want to make Pennsylvania a national leader in transparency and accountability in politics. I believe that stronger government and ethics reforms can help reduce or eliminate the potential for corruption in state government while providing transparency to the political process.
As governor, I will take a different kind of approach in Harrisburg by implementing real state ethics and government reforms so that our government is more transparent and accountable to the public.
How would you as Governor foster government transparency and accountability?
As referenced above, I will implement ethics and government reforms to make the Commonwealth more transparent and accountable. I have already called for gift reforms that include more reporting requirements, legal contracting reform that requires a competitive bidding process, and campaign finance reforms that also contain more frequent reporting.
I have also pledged to open up government and share data and information. In my Fresh Start plan, which was released in February, I call for the creation of an Office of Data Analysis and Program Management. This office will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of an open data plan similar to those being implemented in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Maryland. In line with those policies and open data best practices, the Office’s responsibilities will include creating an open data web portal, developing a comprehensive list of departmental data with a schedule for releasing and updating information, providing departmental-level assistance to help integrate open data into daily activities, and regular public reporting on progress.
Are you familiar with the “open data” movement? Do you believe that government agencies should put most documents/information online, so that interested citizens don’t have to make requests for public records?
Yes, I am familiar with the “open data” movement. I will work with the Office of the General Counsel to identify and release datasets that are subject to disclosure under the Open Records Law and do not pose concerns about privacy, confidentiality, or security. Government is
responsible to the people and we should be promoting participation and collaboration by making appropriate datasets available.
Do you believe that Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law (open records) and Sunshine Act (open meetings) go far enough in ensuring that government’s records and meetings are open to the public?
As governor, I will work with key stakeholders to evaluate our Right to Know Law and Sunshine Act to ensure that government is open, transparent, and accessible.
Are there any new exemptions to the Open Meetings or Open Records laws that you believe should be created? Would you eliminate or narrow any of the existing exemptions?
As noted above, I will evaluate these two laws and, if necessary, recommend reforms to make government more open and transparent.
In 2008, the Governor and the General Assembly created the Office of Open Records to help citizens use the public records law and to help public officials follow the law. Will you support ongoing funding for that office at adequate levels?
I will work to adequately fund the Office of Open Records.
Do you support the printing of public notices in newspapers as a means to inform the public and make a permanent record of government actions and proposed actions?
Yes, we need to make sure that public notices and other important information are accessible both in print and online.
Although many counties permit the media to enter polling places to view and record election activities, some do not. Do you believe that the media should be able to access polling places?
I believe the media should be able to access polling places and document the voting process in a way that does not raise privacy and safety concerns. As governor, I would support legislative efforts to allow the media to do this.
New technologies, such as drones, present issues and opportunities for law enforcement, the news media, and many others. What is your position on the use of drones by government agencies? By the news media?
I believe we should have statewide regulations to ensure the use of drones by law enforcement officials complies with standard legal surveillance requirements. Drones should not be used to invade the privacy of law-abiding residents.
Are there any other comments or plans that you wish to share on government openness and transparency?
As governor, I will be a vocal advocate for publicly sharing information, and my administration will be committed to transparency, participation, and collaboration – this is something I am serious about doing as governor. I will create an office that is directly responsible for ensuring we follow through on this commitment, and I will support legislative efforts to make sure Pennsylvania remains an open and transparent state for years to come.