(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne P. DeAngelo, Daniel R. Benson, Ruben J. Ramos, Jr., and Paul D. Moriarty to combat the lack of basic online information about state, regional and local boards, commissions and authorities is now law.
The new law (formerly A-3908) implements changes recommended by the Office of the State Comptroller’s report entitled, “An Analysis of the On-Line Transparency of New Jersey’s Local Authorities and Commissions.”
The law requires state, regional, and local authorities, boards, and commissions to establish an Internet website and post information related to each entity’s mission, finances, meetings and employees.
“Democracy relies on open and transparent government that hides nothing, and unfortunately, New Jersey taxpayers weren’t getting that in many cases,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Failing to post fiscal information is bad enough, but it’s horrendous that only 8 percent of these agencies post their schedule, agendas and minutes of public meetings.”
“It’s just flat out wrong that only seven of the 587 local authorities and commissions satisfied all the transparency measures tested as part of the comptroller’s analysis,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Taxpayers deserve better.”
“Open and transparent government is always the best approach, and that’s what this law accomplishes,” said Ramos (D-Hudson).
“The comptroller’s report identified 587 local agencies with independent fiscal authority responsibility for the expenditure of public funds,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “But only 8 percent of these agencies post the schedule, agendas, and minutes of their public meetings, 53 percent make one of those three documents available and the remaining 40 percent do not post any meeting information. They need to do better.”
The agencies subject to the state comptroller’s review were local authorities and commissions, fire districts, housing authorities, joint insurance funds, workforce investment boards, soil conservation districts, Urban Enterprise Zone development corporations, regional health commissions and county parks commissions.
The report found that even when local agencies establish websites, the websites often lack basic and significant information about the operations and fiscal affairs of local commissions and authorities.