Local News

Cary Celebrates Open Government, Freedom of Information

Posted March 14, 2008 11:03 a.m. EDT

— As part of its “strong and ongoing commitment to openness and transparency,” the Town of Cary will join the nation in celebrating Sunshine Week – a national initiative to promote the importance of open government and freedom of information.

Sunshine Week is March 16-22.

Cary created a new Sunshine Week Web page and produced a Sunshine Week public service announcement that runs regularly on Cary TV 11.

Supervisors are also reminding town staff of their responsibilities under Sunshine laws. On March 13, the Cary Town Council, for the first time, officially recognized Sunshine Week with a proclamation.

“Even though we work hard on accessibility and transparency, we want citizens to let us know of any issues they encounter since, despite our best efforts, there will surely be opportunities for us to improve,” said Town Clerk Sue Rowland.

Town officials have implemented a number of measures in an effort to foster accessibility and transparency, including:

  • Public records policy – On Feb. 8, 2007 Cary became one of the first local governments in North Carolina to adopt a comprehensive public records policy that articulates specifically how the town shall support Sunshine laws.
  • Annual Media survey – To help access its level of openness, the town has been asking the media to rate the town on “accessibility of information” every year since 1999.
  • Online access to information – Since 1997, the town has been posting council meeting materials on the Web for everyone to access at the same time – the Web site boasts more than 55,000 files of public records.
  • Statement of Values – Two of the 11 points in the town’s Statement of Values refer to transparency: 1) Our organization exists to serve our citizens. 2) We will be open, ensure access, encourage involvement and be accountable to our citizens; and 3) We will be honest, ethical and diligent. Our actions will comply with local, state and federal laws.
  • Internal education efforts – Public records and open meetings information is shared with all new employees and citizen advisory board members during their orientation to the Town of Cary; this information is reinforced with staff during related training opportunities throughout the year.

Those with questions about public records in the Town of Cary should contact Rowland at 919- 460-4941 or Public Information Officer Susan Moran at 919-460-4951.