The Utah State Archives and Records Service hosted 22 guests from the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy on September 24, 2018. Our guests were journalists, mayors, a senator, and agency directors from several Central and South American nations who travelled to the United States to examine transparency and accountability in government. They are researching best practices for government records transparency in hopes of taking new ideas back to implement in their home countries. The group is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
The Archives’s Open Government team presented an overview of how GRAMA supports government transparency. Rosemary Cundiff described her role as government records ombudsman and explained how she works to educate records officers and other members of government about GRAMA. She also helps members of the public to understand their rights and how to access records, and mediates between the public and government in disagreements about access. Gina Proctor described the State Records Committee and explained how it hears cases of records access denials and the procedures it follows to make decisions. Dylan Mace provided an overview of the Open Records Portal, which was created with the intention of providing a single point to request records across various state entities. He explained how the portal is used by private citizens, journalists, and law offices to gain information in a variety of areas including crimes committed, accidents reported, governmental function, and how businesses use the portal to research contract proposals, property purchases, and engineering projects. Rae Gifford displayed some of the historic documents in the Archives’s possession and provided a tour of the permanent Archives repository.
The Utah State Archives was happy to host our friends from Central and South America. We hope that we were able to share useful information with them.