Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sunshine Week dedicated to improving transparency in state government

By: DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp

As you may have heard, March 10 through 16 is Sunshine Week, a week dedicated to improving transparency in state government and reaching out to the public for their valuable input. With that, I'd like to take a quick moment to recap some of the great efforts we've done at the Department of Natural Resources to improve transparency and to work more with the public. By working with those who care just as much as we do about protecting our natural resources, we are able to better protect the places we live, work and play.

  • Updated public input website: We want to hear from you! We recently launched a new public input Web page where anyone interested in joining the conversation can find upcoming meetings and hearings on projects all throughout the DNR.
  • Score Card: Take a look at how we are doing on some key issues. The DNR Results Score Card keeps track and reports on the success of programs.
  • Open Book: Earlier this year, we took part of the launch of Open Book, a website where anyone can look up information on government expenditures across all state government agencies. openbook.wi.gov (exit DNR).
  • Program Guidance Initiative: In an effort to improve transparency and provide more opportunities for the public to give input on key natural resources decisions, we've developed a new process to standardize how the DNR develops guidance for complying with state and federal rules and requirements.
    Programs in the agency develop guidance documents that direct staff on how to approach making decisions when there are not specific details in a law or code. Guidance often informs decisions on permits intended to protect air or water quality and the implementation of fish and wildlife programs.
  • Training on open records and public meetings laws -- we encourage our staff to be knowledgeable on both the open records law and public meetings law. We also streamlined our process for taking open records requests, now it's easier than ever to request information on public records.
  • Annual Report: 2013 [PDF] was an exciting year with many highlights and success.

Maintaining transparency in the DNR remains crucial for our mission to protect and enhance our natural resources, and we can't do it alone. Looking ahead, I am excited to continue improving transparency and working with others to keep Wisconsin one of the best places to live and recreate!

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