As documented by the Caesar Rodney Institute using U.S. Department of Justice data on convictions of state and local public officials, corruption is a growing problem in Delaware. The historical and research evidence is clear that corruption undermines economic growth. The Governor through an executive order and the legislature through a recent bill have taken a huge step forward to reducing government corruption in the First State.
The simplest and most effective way to reduce public corruption is to provide ready access to government documents and records to citizens. Sunshine is a wonderful disinfectant.
The actions by the Governor and the legislature are straightforward. From this point forward, requests made by citizens under the 1977 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will be significantly streamlined. In addition to a standard FOIA form being adopted, a FOIA coordinator is designated for each executive branch, FOIA requests can now be made in person or by mail, fax or email, and copying fees on FOIA requests are capped at $0.10 per page.
Citizens with concerns over salary abuse, vendor favoritism or excessive travel expenditures can now be readily addressed. This sends a huge message to citizens, businesses, investors, and the many honest public employees that Delaware government is serious about battling favoritism, cronyism and back room deals.
And, it will save the Caesar Rodney Institute money. Since it was launched, CRI’s government transparency website, Delaware Spends, has drawn far more traffic than any other part of the overall website. Maintaining the site has cost CRI about $15,000 a year. CRI has also had to retain legal counsel to fight FOIA requests through the government maze. Most recently, CRI spent over $6,000 to force the City of Dover to make its solar park contract public.
Thanks to the Governor and the legislature, those days are over!
This will, over the long-term, be a significant factor in returning robust economic growth to Delaware.
Dr. John E. Stapleford, Director
Center for Economic Policy and Analysis