Open Providence Commission for Transparency and Accountability Meeting – Today, March 19, 2012

The Open Providence Commission for Transparency and Accountability is a new commission set up by the Taveras Administration to, well, to do what the name says. The Legislation enabling the Commission is at the bottom of this post.

Their first meeting is today (sorry to say I received notice of this on Friday, but am just getting around to posting). Today’s meeting being their first, it will consist mostly of organizing and the Commissioners getting to know each other. It is open to the public but there won’t be a public comment period on this meeting. I hope to get notice of their future meetings posted in a more timely fashion.


Open Providence Commission for Transparency and Accountability

March 19, 2012 – 5:30pm
The Conference Room, Third Floor, City Hall, 25 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903

  1. Welcome and overview of City Council Resolution creating commission from John Marion, Chairman.
  2. Election of Vice Chairperson
  3. Discussion relative to upcoming meetings and schedule.

Legislation passed by the City Council:


WHEREAS, the Providence City Council and the Mayor of Providence are united in their belief that open and transparent government is essential for citizens to make informed decisions and hold officials accountable for the conduct of the people’s business; and

WHEREAS, the policies and practices of the City of Providence should adhere to high standards which instill trust and confidence of local government in its citizens; and

WHEREAS, a public commitment by the Providence City Council and the Mayor of Providence to open government, transparency and establishment of new standards, as well as mechanisms to enact those standards, will facilitate the expansion of the public’s access to its government; and

WHEREAS, uncomplicated and timely access to public records, and a means of recourse regarding those records, is the people’s ultimate defense from government corruption; and

WHEREAS, in the spirit of the sentiment “Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” as stated by United States Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the City of Providence must make public records and processes transparent and open to public scrutiny in order to expose any government misconduct; and

WHEREAS, the people’s right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society; and

WHEREAS, advances in communications and information technologies have created more opportunities for the public to access information; and

WHEREAS, fundamental to democracy is the right of the public to know what City government is doing, and how to access the various City departments, staff members, data and official documents; and

WHEREAS, the City of Providence posts public meetings and provides public records by request, in accordance with Rhode Island General Laws, § 42-46-8(a), the Open Meetings Act, and § 38-2-8(b), the Access to Public Records Act;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Open Providence Commission for Transparency and Accountability is hereby created.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall be chaired by John Marion, Executive Director of Common Cause Rhode Island and shall consist of fifteen (15) members: four to be named by the Mayor of the City of Providence, four to be named by the City Council President, and the following members (or their respective designees): the City Clerk, the City Solicitor, the Chief Information Officer, the Webmaster, the Director of ProvStat, and the Information Technology Specialist for the Providence City Council.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall perform an organizational assessment of the existing Open Government and public information technology, policies, and procedures and establish goals for increasing access to information, government accountability and transparency. To this end the Commission should:

  1. Propose a mechanism to make public information, hearings and votes accessible by suggesting changes to the way information is organized and presented on the City’s website; and
  2. Investigate current technologies and propose the development of a state of the art citizen dashboard and applications to provide new capabilities that government departments can harness to improve services and responsiveness to its constituency at a lower cost; and
  3. Develop a feasible plan for implementation with consideration of the challenges inherent in the training and cultural change which is necessary for the adoption of new policies and technologies within city government.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall include in its research the best practices regionally and nationally that have achieved quantifiable results.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall work to identify sources of funding to support the changes needed to make the City of Providence more open and accountable to its constituency, as laid out in this Resolution.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall organize a public hearing, engage relevant community, business and labor stakeholders, and invite appropriate administrative staff to provide important internal and external information.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that ninety (90) days from the date of the passage of this Resolution, the Commission shall report its findings and recommendations to establish in the City of Providence an open and accountable government.

  1. Chairman – John Marion, Common Cause of RI
  2. CC Appointee – Andrew Law
  3. CC Appointee – Jim Lucht
  4. CC Appointee – Pamelee Murphy
  5. CC Appointee – Allan Tear
  6. Mayor Appointee – Elaine Collins
  7. Mayor Appointee – Nelson Rocha
  8. Mayor Appointee – John F. Speck
  9. Mayor Appointee – Karina Wood
  10. The City Clerk, Anna Stetson
  11. The City Solicitor, Jeffrey Padwa
  12. The Chief Information Officer, Jim Silveria
  13. The Webmaster, Paul DiCecco
  14. The Director of ProvStat, Pamela Cardillo
  15. The Information Technology Specialist for the Providence City Council, Felicia Ingram

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5 Responses to Open Providence Commission for Transparency and Accountability Meeting – Today, March 19, 2012

  1. Jason March 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Someone who’s going please bring up how awful the servers are that provide access to real estate/property information?

    Very slow. Also, very difficult to actually dump the data for analysis.

  2. Jef Nickerson March 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    There’s no public comment today, and John Speck, who would be the one most in tune with that opinion is actually out of the country and will miss today’s meeting. But I have no doubt that John Speck will be beating the drum on improving our IT.

  3. John Marion March 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Thanks, Jason, for your input. I would urge anyone who has any ideas about how to make City government more open, transparent, and accountable, to share your thoughts. I hope we’ll be able to put up a dedicated page just for the commission to seek input. Until then, I’ll keep checking these comments for those who care to share.

  4. jencoleslaw March 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    when i saw the headline i thought it was a resolution to make the 195 Commission more transparent and open. Wishful thinking!

  5. Jef Nickerson March 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm #


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