“Amen” is definitely an appropriate response to Gov. Henry McMaster’s stance on government transparency.
Recently he and state Inspector General Brian Lamkin shared the results of an Office of Inspector General survey to determine how compliant government agencies are with changes made to the state Freedom of Information Act and signed into law two years ago by the governor.
In addition to establishing quicker FOI request response deadlines and streamlining costs associated with researching and providing public records, the law requires government agencies to post fee schedules so the public has a solid estimate how much their request for information could cost.
Unfortunately, the OIG survey determined that only 13 of the 35 government agencies checked were in compliance. Not the best reflection on government abiding by its own laws, but then again, probably not all that surprising. A positive result of the survey, however, found that government agencies’ response times were greatly improved.
The governor set an end-of-year deadline for agencies to provide evidence they are in compliance with the state’s FOI laws or, if not, what steps they will take to become compliant.
McMaster did not stop there, however, and this is where we all should join him with an amen. The governor turned his attention to the very body that writes and passes state laws, the General Assembly, calling for its members to fall in line and also comply with the law.
Sounds a bit like Washington, D.C., but indeed the law the General Assembly applied to government agencies is one its members are immune to.
That, McMaster said, “is an error that should be corrected. It is important that people in South Carolina have confidence to what is going on in the government and the best way for them to be able to make their own minds is to have access to the records.
“The legislature rightly expects transparency and accountability from state agencies and others, and the legislature should be subject to and comply with these laws.”
As we said, amen. And thank you, Governor, for being a longtime proponent of government transparency. It’s a shame you can’t force upon the lawmakers the compliance you seek from them.
This editorial is from the Index-Journal of Greenwood.