Your Borough is in the information business
December 22, 2016
Local governments are in the business of providing affordable resident services and managing the laws that keep us safe and secure. They are also responsible for sharing and protecting their records.
BELOW: Massive 7-Alarm Fire Rips Through Brooklyn NY Warehouse, 4 Million Boxes of Records Gone. Firefighters were battling a stubborn seven-alarm inferno that ripped through a Brooklyn waterfront
In a Borough form of government, we elect a Mayor and six Council representatives. These seven volunteers, known as our Governing Body, are elected to set priorities, collect taxes, provide services, and establish laws.
To accomplish these tasks, each member of the Governing Body is armed with their good judgment, their knowledge of relevant laws, and the support of the Borough staff.
While the members of the Governing Body are responsible for many serious issues, there is a high probability that they suffer from the following:
- Elected representatives receive little or no training about state statutes, local laws, and administrative procedures
- The Municipal Clerk, who typically serves as the Records Custodian and is therefore certified to manage the Borough’s records, has little or no information and technology training
- In the last 10 years, budgets have been reduced, resulting in shrinking administrative support staff and higher than normal turnover rate
- There are no requirements to document procedures to guide Members and Staff regarding the layout, management, and safeguardng of public records.
Given the above, too often, the municipality does not address the information services that are required by OPMA and OPRA – and become involved in a tug of war with the constituents they are sworn to serve.
The goal of the Borough Watch project is to recognize that your Borough is in the information business – and policies and procedures must be enacted to make sure strategic personnel have the proper resources and training to carry our their legally required responsibilities.