SALT LAKE CITY – The future of public access will get much clearer — literally — if a data transparency bill passes the Legislature.
Sen. Diedre Henderson, R-Spanish Forks, wants to create one, all-inclusive data website under the domain name: open.utah.gov.
The bill, SB70, which passed committee unanimously, suggested that the website would act as a conglomerate of all the information available to citizens, as well as a Government Records Access and Management Act or GRAMA hub that will contain all records requests made in the past.
Henderson said she hopes that this will lessen the number of request made each year, as well as, expand the scope of transparency for Utah’s government in a more “user friendly” and meaningful way.
“We have a lot of pieces of the puzzle scattered all over the place and [this bill would] bring them together to one place that makes sense,” Henderson said.
Of course the fiscal note that projects the total costs for 2015 and 2016 to reach more than $1.1 million has lawmakers concerned. Sen. Margret Dayton, R-Orem, questioned whether the bill if passed but is not funded, could still move forward in anyway, until funds became more available.
Henderson said that the fiscal note “is a bite out of the apple for sure.” She said regardless of funding the bill will still move forward besides the GRAMA hub, which would require addition resources to be completed.
The senator proposed that bill if the bill is passed and properly funded, that the website should be up and running by Jan. 1, 2016. Tricia Smith-Mansfield, a representative from the Utah State Archive, who is one of many responsible for creating the portal, confirmed this goal.
Mark Van Orden, the governor’s executive director of technology services, also spoke in support of the bill.
“You’ll see a list of data that’s available . . . in eight to ten different formats,”he said. “In the end we believe that will save state money and certainly give more data accessibility and reusability to the public.”