Here’s a shout-out to the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, a not-for-profit group dedicated to ensuring that citizens have access to the particulars (details, facts, figures, statistics, data, reports) of their government’s actions.
We are a nonprofit alliance formed to promote expanded access to government records, meetings and other proceedings at the state and local level. Our efforts are focused solely on local/state information access. While we do some lobbying (within limits imposed by IRS rules), our primary work is educational. The Coalition was formed in 1996, after a year-long organizing effort. Our 23-member board of directors represents the state’s access activists and friends of open government, including Virginia’s librarians, genealogists, broadcasters, newspapers and the public at large. Start-up funding was provided by the Virginia Press Association, the Virginia Association of Broadcasters, Media General, the Landmark Communications Foundation, America Online, all of the major in-state newspapers, public radio and television stations, a number of commercial stations and other friends of open government. Supporters also include Dominion, Appalachian Power, SunTrust, LexisNexis, Christian & Barton, Conservation Voters League, Woods Rogers, Gentry Locke.
I’m glad this group exists and functions as it does. As governments depend more and more on electronic storage of data, the importance of open access to government data will increase. To be sure, reasonable people understand that governments collect some data that should be kept private (e.g., tax records), but other data and discussions about them by governmental bodies should belong to the people—”we the people”—and, in securing access to those data, VCOG serves a valuable function.
Link to the VCOG Web site where one can learn much more.