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April 1, 2016

Just 11 percent of New Jersey’s independent local governments are in full compliance with an online transparency law that went into effect in February 2013, according to a study released by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG).

The law was crafted and put into place after the Office of the State Comptroller revealed in 2011 that only 3 percent of 587 local government agencies posted financial data online, and more than a third had no online presence whatsoever.

The online transparency law contained 11 requirements that local government agencies must meet. These include having an online presence and posting basic information such as minutes, resolutions, budgets, and meeting notices.

The NJFOG report tracked 436 local agencies. It determined that while 95 percent maintain on online presence, only 11 percent (48) are in full compliance with the law. For example, just 64 percent (281) post online meeting notices. Only 35 percent (153) post minutes of those meetings.

“New Jersey’s independent agencies collectively control hundreds of millions in public funding,” said NJFOG president Walter Luers. “They have an obligation to be as transparent as possible in how they are managing those tax dollars.”

Luers also noted that there is no mechanism in the transparency law that enable citizens to compel local agencies to comply with all of its requirements. He hopes that NJFOG’s report will spur legislators to amend the law.

The NJFOG study is the first assessment of online compliance since the comptroller’s original report. More information about the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government is available on its website.

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