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State’s Open Records Management Stuck in Dark Ages

- Online Flash Briefing Set for Feb. 9

Texas hosts and continues to attract some of the world’s most cutting-edge technology companies, yet the State of Texas’ management of open records is decidedly stuck in the dark ages. This failure of leadership is hindering efforts to foster a modern, efficient and transparent government that Texans can trust.

One of a handful of lawmakers committed to modernizing the state’s clunky open records procedures, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, will join TAB Feb. 9 for an online 30-minute briefing on his efforts to help data journalists and others hold state and local government accountable.

Capriglione will join journalists and other advocates for transparent and accountable government to discuss legislation requiring that public records be released in searchable and sortable formats and providing greater transparency of signed government contracts.

While Texas Attorney General rulings indicate governmental entities should produce documents in the form in which they are kept, many entities release records as PDF images, making it difficult – if not impossible – to search and sort information.

In 2019, the Texas House passed HB 4132 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, which addressed this problem, but it didn’t advance quickly enough to be taken up in the Texas Senate before the legislative session ended.

Government accountability advocates also note that legislation enacted in 2019 by state lawmakers has failed to ensure that government contracts spending public tax dollars are accessible to the public, with many entities actively working to keep public contract information secret.

TAB in late February will provide members an in-depth online briefing of our full legislative agenda which includes multiple Open Government and business concerns. The timing reflects the pandemic-forced delay in the legislature’s operations.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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