Column by Joe Nichols, Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
(published in The Columbus Dispatch)
Progressive U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously touted sunshine as “the best disinfectant.” However, sunshine is not in the business of converting government’s nonstandard records into easily accessible, electronic and crunchable data.
Accessible information is necessary for researchers at places like The Buckeye Institute, but it is more important that Ohio voters and government decision-makers have the data to which they are legally entitled. Public records, or so-called sunshine laws, are a good start to resolving a lack of transparency in government expenditures. But, as Mary McCleary articulated in her Feb. 17 op-ed, the process of submitting requests and obtaining the actual information is much more cumbersome than it should be in this age of modern technology.
The Buckeye Institute hosts a popular database on which people can search for what their government should be providing directly. In order to create this database, Buckeye has to contact each jurisdiction to request the information.
Some government entities have proven to be far better organized and more responsive than others.