Wyoming Governor Asks Media for Ideas to Ensure Transparency
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming's governor expressed support Friday for ensuring that the news media have access to state documents and other information that must be available to the public by law.
Gov. Mark Gordon met with about 20 news reporters, editors, publishers and others from around the state at the Governor's Residence to discuss government transparency.
Since taking office in January, Gordon has convened a working group made up of him, State Auditor Kristi Racines and others to promote transparency in state finances and budgeting. He described Friday's meeting at the close of Sunshine Week as another part of his transparency efforts.
"We wanted to be pretty methodical in approaching this," Gordon said.
Sunshine Week recognizes the public's right to access government information in the U.S. through the Freedom of Information Act and other laws.
Participants in Friday's meeting included representatives of the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Wyoming Public Radio and The Associated Press. Racines and state Rep. Dan Dockstader, a publisher and radio host from Afton, also took part.
"Transparency is important to all of us, but having these conversations and fleshing out what does that mean and triaging where we can do the most good first, is certainly what I'm interested in hearing," Racines said.
Casper Star-Tribune Publisher Dale Bohren called for officials and government employees at all levels to understand the public benefit of open access to information.
"It benefits our community in ways that are almost intangible sometimes, because everybody understands what's going on. They accept it and want to get behind a solution," Bohren said.
One outcome of the meeting could be a committee of journalists, state legislators and others who would work with a new state public records ombudsman to review state officials' responses to public-records requests.
The ombudsman job was created in a bill recently passed by the Wyoming Legislature and signed into law by Gordon.