We here in the audits division are proud that the work we do makes a difference. Our work attracts the attention of the legislature, statewide news sources, and even local media outlets. Local media coverage of our audits is just another way we communicate with the people of Oregon about the work that we’re doing on their behalf to make government better. This is part of an ongoing series of posts rounding up recent instances in which the Oregon Audits Division makes a cameo in the local news.
As previously announced, division director Gary Blackmer is retiring next month after 30 years of auditing at the city, county and state levels. Gary was featured in an interview and article in Governing magazine, where he reflected on his career and shared some insights learned from decades of auditing experience.
Governing magazine – A Conversation With Gary Blackmer, One of America’s Performance Management Leaders
Additionally, the Oregon Audits Division recently released its audit of how Oregon agencies are responding to public records request. This audit, requested by Governor Kate Brown in legislation that passed in the 2015 session, was of high interest to the public and the media. You can read the audit report in full here.
The Oregonian/OregonLive – ‘Suspicion and distrust’: Audit sought by Kate Brown points to public records fixes
“An audit on public records, ordered in the wake of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s resignation, finds Oregon agencies largely fail to track requests and struggle to respond to complex requests, fostering suspicion that could threaten the credibility and transparency of state government.”
KTVZ – Audit: More to be done to improve public-records access
“While Oregon agencies follow the public records law for most public records requests, more needs to be done to address the complex, non-routine requests that agencies receive, according to an audit released Tuesday by the secretary of state’s office.”
Portland Tribune – Audit: Public trust at stake as agencies fulfill records requests
“Oregon government agencies may be jeopardizing public trust with slow responses to more complex public records requests and inconsistent use of exemptions, according to a state audit report released Tuesday.”
Statesman Journal – Audit finds state public records system wanting
“An audit released Tuesday by the secretary of state’s office said Oregon’s public records system needs improvements. A review of nine state agencies found that although they are usually capable of handling small requests, complex requests — the kind most likely to reveal information that would otherwise be kept out of public view — are often mishandled, turning into costly and time consuming ordeals for the agencies and requesters.”
OPB – Oregon Audit: State Agencies Struggle With Complex Public Records Requests
“State agencies in Oregon struggle to fulfill complex requests for public information. That’s one conclusion of an audit released Tuesday by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.”
Willamette Week – Secretary of State’s Audit Says Oregon Struggles to Respond to Complex Public Records Requests
“Upon replacing former Gov. John Kitzhaber on Feb. 18, Gov. Kate Brown said she would take steps to improve accountability and transparency in state government … One of the steps Brown announced was an audit of how well the state’s public records law works. Today, Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins released the results of that audit.”
The day after the audit was released, representatives from the Audits Division testified before the Joint Legislative Audits Committee, or JLAC, when it convened during Legislative Days. Governor Brown kicked off the testimony by announcing to committee members the action she planned to take in response to the audit findings, which also drew another round of media coverage.
The Oregonian/OregonLive – Kate Brown: ‘It was clear transparency was not a priority’ for Kitzhaber
“The governor announced that she would use her executive powers to change how state agencies operate. Those changes would not affect local governments or lawmakers. She also promised to draft legislation for 2016 asking lawmakers to fund a “neutral third-party entity” that could mediate disputes over requests.”
Statesman Journal – Brown announces public records reforms
“Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday that she will sign executive orders to reform Oregon’s public records system and create an independent third-party position to mediate public records disputes.
She made the announcement to the Joint Committee on Legislative Audits and said the orders are implementing recommendations from an audit of the state’s public records system.”
Register Guard – Editorial: Fractured transparency
“Gov. Kate Brown came into office in February promising a new era of openness in state government … Such promises can’t be fulfilled with the wave of a hand, and now an audit has revealed how much work there is to be done to ensure that state agencies comply with the spirit of Oregon’s public records law … Much would remain to be done, but the audit provides a good place for Brown to begin keeping her inaugural promise.”
Portland Tribune – Brown puts public records reform on lawmakers’ front burner
“Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday promised to take immediate action to improve access to government records after a state audit showed slow and inconsistent responses to records requests may be jeopardizing public trust.”