Office of Attorney General Chris Carr Champions Open Government in Georgia

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Last year, Attorney General Chris Carr instituted an Open Government Tour in Georgia as part of a larger effort to educate members of the community, elected officials, state record keepers and others about their duties and responsibilities under Georgia’s Open Meetings Act and Open Records Act.

“Openness and transparency are critical to an efficient and well-functioning government,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “As public officials, we are simply trustees of the people’s documents. Ensuring access to government meetings and records is crucial to keeping the public informed and holding elected officials accountable. Our office takes very seriously our role in open government, and we will continue to work with municipalities, state agencies, the media and all interested parties to promote and protect transparent government in Georgia.”

Through our office’s Open Government Mediation Program, led by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Colangelo, we help mediate local government disputes by addressing complaints from Georgia citizens. From January 1, 2017, to January 31, 2018, our office helped over 260 citizens, either by assisting them with getting documents or by answering questions and providing information about the requirements of the OMA and ORA.

Because our office has found that many of the issues that we hear about occur not because of malicious intent, but rather due to a lack of understanding or lack of knowledge about what the law in Georgia is, we conducted 14 presentations as part of our Open Government Tour for more than 500 people from across the state. As part of this year’s efforts, our office also conducted a first-of-its-kind, free-of-charge training for any and all state agency personnel tasked with maintaining open records or facilitating open meetings. The first training was so successful and widely attended that we hosted an additional training.

Trainings around the state included the following stops:

February 24, 2017 – State Bar “Georgia Bar Media and Judiciary Conference”

March 9, 2017 – Sale City

March 22, 2017 – City of Morrow

April 20, 2017 – Taliaferro County

May 23, 2017 – City of Riverdale

June 12, 2017 – Georgia Records Association

August 7, 2017 – City of Temple

August 17, 2017 – State Employees Training (first presentation)

August 22, 2017 – State Licensing Board Staff

August 31, 2017 –Georgia Composite Medical Board

November 15, 2017 – Georgia Board of Accountancy

September 5, 2017 – State Employees Training (second presentation)

September 20, 2017 – Georgia Public Safety Training Center

January 24, 2018 – Georgia Sheriff’s Association

Any Georgia citizen can make an open government request by submitting a request directly to a particular government agency’s custodian of records. Request forms can be found here.