Mar-16-2011 Christie Administration Recognizes Sunshine Week
Christie Administration Recognizes Sunshine Week
Departments of Community Affairs and Treasury Provide Public with Ways to Better Access Government Documents
TRENTON, NJ – In recognition of Sunshine Week, the Christie Administration is highlighting ways that citizens and records custodians in New Jersey can improve access to government records. Sunshine Week, which is being observed March 13-19 this year, is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of government transparency and freedom of information. The Christie Administration's Government Transparency Center was launched last year and shares these same principles.
"From his first day in office, Governor Christie announced his administration's dedication to open government when he signed an executive order directing the State to create a user-friendly website to help citizens track government spending," said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Lori Grifa. "This administration recognizes that an informed public is essential to democracy. As the Department that oversees the Government Records Council, the DCA is committed to fostering greater transparency in state government. Our new guidelines will assist records custodians in staying organized, tracking deadlines, and making sure government records are open to the public in compliance with the law."
Under the state's Open Public Records Act (OPRA), which took effect July 2002, New Jersey residents have access to records maintained by public agencies. The interactive web-based Transparency Center, launched last year, lets users search, sort and download data on state expenditures, revenue, tax collections, the state payroll, purchasing, and debt. It also includes a citizen's guide to the state budget and a tool that lets people review monthly operations and performance reports for each department of state government. In the coming months, the site will provide additional information on Authorities' debt reports, property tax data, and pension reports.
"Delivering on Governor Christie's commitment toward creating a more transparent and accountable State government, Treasury created the Governor's Transparency Center, YourMoney.NJ.Gov," Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said. "As the State's online clearinghouse for transparency, the site not only complements and expands access to public records that OPRA provides, but also gives New Jerseyans and the broader public an unprecedented insight into all of State government's revenues, spending and performance."
As part of Sunshine week, DCA wants to remind citizens how they can access records not currently posted at the Transparency Center:
Determine which records they wish to inspect or copy, and then determine which public agency holds them;
Ask the public agency's custodian of records for help in identifying what public record is likely to contain the information or facts being sought;
Identify the specific record(s) desired;
Submit the request to the records custodian of the public agency that has the record to eliminate delays in fulfilling the request. In a municipal government, the custodian will be the municipal clerk.
Citizens with questions should contact the Government Records Council at 1-866-850-0511 or by visiting http://www.nj.gov/grc.
The Government Transparency Center can be accessed by visiting www.YourMoney.nj.gov.