Transparency in Michigan
Transparency is not an end within itself, it is a tool used for accountability. It is impossible to hold public officials accountable if we do not know what outcomes they are achieving, and at what cost they are achieving those outcomes.
Transparency is a process that:
(1) requires one to disclose
(2) substantively and truthfully
(3) one’s performance
(4) to those who are entitled to know.
Are you familiar with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and how to request documents from the government? Here is a great primer on Michigan FOIA procedures from the Sunshine Review. Here is a sample FOIA letter in case you were curious on what a request might look like, and a FOIA letter generator. An excellent example of a journalist using FOIA in Michigan.
Here are a list of websites which you can use to learn more about your government, and the outcomes it achieves:
Michigan Votes – A great website which allows you to search a legislatures voting history. Give you the ability to look at votes by issue, or find out how often they went against their own party during a vote. Also gives you an easy way to find phone numbers, email addresses, and a list of campaign contributions.
Show Michigan the Money - Website which provides links to government school district revenue spending, school district collective bargaining contracts, and the Michigan Secretary of State.
The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity offers “Citizen Watchdog” seminars which train citizens how to hold government accountable.
The best way to improve government is to take action and hold public officials accountable! Keep track of how they are doing and write/call/email them! If you have a website we should add, let us know!