New York Daily News Councilman Ben Kallos wants city to publish government notices on its website by Erin Durkin

New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Councilman Ben Kallos wants city to publish government notices on its website
Erin Durkin
05/26/2014

A city councilman wants to shed some light on obscure government notices.

Under legislation to be introduced by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the city would be required to post all government notices on its website — from announcements of a community board meeting to an application for a new sidewalk cafe.

“There’s literally hundreds and hundreds of places where the government has to make a public notice — but nobody knows what the government is doing, because the public notice requirements are so arcane,” said Kallos, chairman of the government operations committee.

“We can save a lot of paper and money and increase transparency,” he said.

Another bill would require all records that the law says must be kept for public inspection to be posted online.The notices are physically posted in public buildings or published in the back pages of newspapers.

That would cover such documents as city contracts with private vendors and applications by developers for zoning changes.

“It’s all sorts of things that end up in the clerk’s basement or in a locked filing cabinet,” Kallos said.

The measures would also scrap the requirement that the City Record — a daily compilation of municipal notices pored over by the most devoted local government wonks — be produced in print, in favor of a revamped website.

Items now left out of the online version would be included in the new website, and the site would be designed to let developers grab the raw data to create their own apps.

Kallos said the new laws, which he plans to introduce at Thursday’s Council meeting, would cover dozens of documents a day and thousands every month.

Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx), chairman of the Technology Committee, said he’d back the legislation. Current rules are “a way for agencies to cover their rear end and say we did post a notice,” he said.

“It would bring into the sunlight so much that no one ever sees,” Vacca said.

Issue: 
Good Government
Technology