Additional transparency

The House Government Modernization committee wants to advance an agenda of increasing government transparency and cutting costs to Oklahoma taxpayers.

During their first meeting of the legislative session, the committee approved numerous modernization, efficiency and transparency measures.

Those initiatives included legislation by House Floor Leader Jon Echols to sunset state agencies. His House Bill 1461 seeks to duplicate the work of the innovative Texas Sunset Commission. He believes it will be an effective tool for shrinking the size of Oklahoma state government.

Freshman state representative and committee member Mike Osburn authored House Bill 1234, which allows for the digitization of paper documents. Once digitized, government entities will be relieved from the significant cost of warehousing the millions of old documents.

Rep. Chuck Strohm, R-Tulsa, won approval for his proposal to give the public better purview of school district finances. His House Bill 1509 makes school district financial documents available for online access.

House Bill 2248 by Rep. David Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow,  creates an “open records one stop shop” through which members of the public will request public records without having to navigate the maze of varied state government bureaucracies which currently oversee these requests.

Freshman Rep. Avery Frix won approval for his first bill, House Bill 1599, a modernization of the bonding requirements on public construction contracts.

“The large volume of reform proposals demonstrates a heartfelt commitment by our colleagues to increase transparency and reduce the burden of government upon the taxpayer,” said Committee Vice Chairman Tom Gann, R-Inola.

Reps. Jason Murphey and Gann announced the members of the House Government Modernization Committee are set to take testimony regarding Oklahoma’s cybersecurity position.

Officials from the state’s unified Information Technology group will update committee members about the efforts to protect state and local government technology assets.

In the past, these officials have described the ongoing attacks on government IT infrastructure from attackers both within and outside of the United States.

“The issue of IT security has now reached broad public purview,” said Gann. “The public must know that Oklahoma legislators are meeting our responsibility to perform oversight of this vital process and state IT officials are continuing in their efforts to lead the nation in terms of state government security policy.”

“It’s of particular interest to me to allow the public to know the specific state agencies that are protected by the state’s IT security team and those that have yet to be unified within the state’s security infrastructure,” said Committee Chairman Murphey, R-Guthrie. “In light of recent events, there is no longer an acceptable reason for state agencies to refuse implementation of best security practices.”