The North Carolina Open Government Coalition unites organizations interested in ensuring and enhancing the public’s access to government activity, records and meetings. The nonpartisan coalition will educate people about their rights and support their efforts to gain access, and advocate the principles and benefits of open government. Education is critically important these days because, according to Elon Poll results, a majority of North Carolina residents are unaware of sunshine laws.
The necessity of an informed citizenry is a core value of each organization participating in the North Carolina Open Government Coalition. Democracy functions best when citizens know what government is doing; this requires access both to public records and to the public decision-making process. The people have an unalienable right of participation in and access to the governments that they have instituted among themselves.
Therefore, the North Carolina Open Government Coalition expects that governing bodies, government agencies and other public entities will:
- understand and effectively administer existing open meetings and public records laws, and err on the side of more openness, access and inclusion when matters of interpretation arise;
- view promotion of public participation and access as a central role of government, rather than as an added responsibility;
- provide the public with prompt, easy access to public records, and limit fees to highly unusual circumstances and then only to minimal cost-recovery;
- avoid declaring public information proprietary in order to limit or prevent public access;
- avoid using the trade secrets exemption in the public records law to withhold legitimately public information that is provided to the government by private entities;
- treat all documents produced with public funds as part of the public record, including emails and other electronic records;
- preserve public records in accessible formats, and ensure that electronic archives meet international digitization standards;
- ensure that electronic data storage systems provide prompt, easy access to the information stored;
- treat outsourced or privatized information services as governed by the same open access laws and regulations to which the government itself is subject.
Read the NCOGC’s records retention policy (adopted in November 2012)
Read the NCOGC’s conflict of interest policy (adopted in November 2012)