Vail Daily editorial: Welcome government news
Nearly all of us agree that open government is a good thing. On Tuesday, Eagle County’s government provided some good news on that front.
The county has a relatively new website called Open Eagle County. That web portal provides information on commissioner and board agendas, all supporting materials, a video archive of public meetings and a lot more.
The site recently added every county government contract dating back to 1974. According to the site, people can browse contracts by year, or search by keywords. Contracts can also be downloaded and printed.
While this web portal is great for government watchdogs, it’s also good information for the many local and regional companies that do business with the county and its various departments.
Say three businesses are pitching to provide a service to the county. Competitors who didn’t win the bid can see the contract terms between the county and the winning bidder. That allows companies to adjust their proposals the next time that contract comes up for renewal. More-informed competition could help the county receive better goods and services for its money, and that’s a benefit to all of us.
These contracts have always been public documents, but as anyone who’s searched government records will attest, internet access to information is usually a superior way to find information.
The Open Eagle County site also provides real-time information on county spending, down to transactions on officials’ government-issued credit cards.
That’s a lot of detail for an organization with an annual budget in the neighborhood of $100 million. It’s also a level of detail that, until a few years ago, simply wouldn’t have been accessible to county residents.
This doesn’t mean all the county’s information is now online. The law allows the county to keep records about personnel decisions and legal negotiations out of the public eye. There are legitimate reasons for those exceptions, although too many state and local governments push the boundaries of those rules.
Still, this trove of information is a good thing.
Too often, government transparency is a self-contradiction along the lines of marijuana initiative.
Our county seems willing to put most of its business into the public domain, and that’s worthy of praise.