Video: U. students kick off transparency project

On Wednesday, students at the University of Utah hosted a public forum to release a set of “best practices” for transparency in local government. This initiative, the Utah Transparency Project (UTP), is supported by Sutherland Institute and other groups from both sides of the political spectrum.

Below you can see a video report of Wednesday’s forum, including interviews with University of Utah student Tanner Gould and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker:

Here’s the script of the video: 

VOICE-OVER: University of Utah students revealed on Wednesday their “Utah Transparency Project,” which promotes awareness for local government transparency and accessibility. Tanner Gould, a student on the team, says the purpose of the project is to give Utahns more information about their government.

TANNER GOULD: “ … to make Utah a more transparent and livable place to be. If any information needs to be accessed by the citizenry it should be easy, quick and efficient. You know, that’s really the basis of it, is make it as easy as possible for the citizens to figure out what they need to know about their government.”

VOICE-OVER: As part of a yearlong honors college think tank, the students created a set of five “Transparency Best Practices” for the project. These include each city and county government establishing an “open government” website. Government information will be collected and maintained on that accessible website. Emails, instant messages and other electronic communications made with government-supplied equipment will be considered public record. Elected officials and administrators will commit to developing a culture of transparency among employees and other officials. And lastly, policy bodies will strive to make all public meetings transparent. Mayor Ralph Becker is one of many people who support the Utah Transparency Project.

MAYOR RALPH BECKER: “I think transparency goes to the heart of government and governance. If we do not have an open and inclusive way that we interact with our community we discourage involvement, we discourage trust in government, and we don’t get the benefit of people engaging. To me this is encouraging to see students take this up and I think represents an opportunity for us to take a fresh look at what we’re doing.”

VOICE-OVER: Derek Monson, Sutherland Institute’s director of public policy, says government transparency is essential in a free society.

DEREK MONSON: “We support this because in the end, open, transparent government is crucial in a free society like ours where we elect our representatives, and the voters need information to make wise decisions on who they should be electing and on what those elected officials are doing with tax dollars and with policy. We’re a supporting organization on their initiative, so we’re supporting the Utah Transparency Project, promoting it, encouraging cities and counties to adopt the best practices and really just trying to push the initiative further.”

VOICE-OVER: For more information about the project, visit www.utahtransparencyproject.org. For Sutherland Institute, I’m Alexis Young, reminding you that public policy changes lives.

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