Government transparency bill passes unanimously
Government transparency – a major tool in preventing waste and corruption – took a small step forward in Illinois this past week. With the signing of House Bill 1040 – which passed both Illinois legislative houses unanimously – state agencies will now be mandated to develop detailed plans on how to get vital public information...
Government transparency – a major tool in preventing waste and corruption – took a small step forward in Illinois this past week.
With the signing of House Bill 1040 – which passed both Illinois legislative houses unanimously – state agencies will now be mandated to develop detailed plans on how to get vital public information posted to the state’s main transparency website more quickly. The bill will also mandate the governor’s office to appoint someone to actually go out and gather this information from state agencies.
Five years after the development of Illinois’ Transparency and Accountability Portal, it became apparent information was not being updated in a timely fashion. The original intention was to have information updated to the portal almost instantaneously. This bill is intended to take a step closer to that goal.
Government transparency is gaining major popularity across political parties. This should be no surprise, as stories of corruption often paint the front pages of newspapers throughout Illinois. Illinois has been riddled with cases of government corruption among local officials – and governors – for years.
Although there have been strides toward government transparency, there is still much to be done – especially on the local level.
For instance, remember Rita Crundwell?
About two years ago Crundwell, then the city of Dixon’s comptroller, was caught having stolen $53 million from the city over a 20-year span. Crundwell is now serving more than 19 years in prison for secretly funneling revenue into her own private accounts. Crundwell lived in luxury, even breeding race horses, all at the taxpayers’ expense.
This could have all been prevented were residents able to see their city’s finances.
Many local governments scored extremely low on the Illinois Policy Institute’s 10-point transparency audit, with Dixon scoring only a 16.7 percent. Local transparency is very poor, and little has been done regarding state law on local government transparency.
But legislation has been introduced to the Illinois General Assembly that would require local governments to post vital information online, such as revenue sources, compensation, contracts and other documents.
If Illinois’ elected officials want to show they are truly for government transparency, they should now focus on passing the Local Government Transparency Act, giving local residents the tools to prevent the next Rita Crundwell.