By Mimy Bailey
Open government is a state of transparency where citizens have access to information, which allows the public to scrutinize, oversee, and participate in government business. Open government is a concept that is fundamental in a democracy. Government functions for the people, so it makes sense that it is not allowed to operate behind closed doors. By making government open, it is accountable to the people it serves.
In Washington, the Public Records Act is a set of statutes that outlines the types of documents available to the public. Under the Act (See RCW 42.56.010), a “public record” is any writing containing information relating to the conduct, performance, or function of the government.
Offices of state and local government have procedures for the public to request documents. To request documents, visit the website of the specific government department and find out more information. Helpful search phrases are “public disclosure” and “public records.”
To learn more about open government in Washington State, visit The Washington Coalition for Open Government’s website.