“Citizen engagement with state government should be facilitated by regular, timely, and consistent dissemination of public information and data,” read the February 1st letter. “The public also deserves help in navigating access to information about their state government.”
In addition to reaffirming the public nature of financial records and other materials, the directive instructs each agency to designate one Freedom of Information Act coordinator and a transparency liaison to assist public requesters and proactively post certain materials.
The Directive was signed as part of the Michigan Press Association’s annual luncheon. Since assuming office on January 1st, Whitmer has issued a number of directives emphasizing the importance of government transparency, including an expectation that employees will report finance irregularities and a prohibition on the use of private email accounts for state business use,
However, public records advocates remain reticent to praise the move, given that it fails to subject the Governor’s office to the public records law. In response to the criticism, Whitmer defended the omission, telling those gathered at the Michigan Press luncheon that she’d prefer to see the requirement made via legislative action to ensure its enforcement in future administrations.
Legislative efforts have begun in the Michigan House, where a number of bills have already been introduced to subject the legislature to public records laws and limit fees for requests when agencies are slow to respond.
The full directive is embedded below: