OPEN GOVERNMENT -- Would it surprise you to learn that there is a bronze, silver and gold standard for transparency policies and practices in local government generally, and in particular for how agencies use the Internet to make public access to information as easy as possible?  Would it surprise you to know that the standards have been developed by a national professional association of bureaucrats?

It surprised us.  So did the fact that the standards are quite demanding.

The National Bureau of Business Licensing Officials, says its website, has been "dedicated to the educational development of the administration, licensing, and code enforcement professions and its
officials since its inception in 1985." 

NBBLO has established a Leadership Circle Program

to
recognize local jurisdictions across the nation for setting the standard for
transparency and in the future for E-government. The Leadership Circle program
recognizes three levels of transparency: Gold, Silver and Bronze. Local government
entities may apply for one of the designations via the Transparency Leadership Application
form
. The three levels of designation are designed to positively recognize the efforts of
local governments and to support and encourage further development of transparency.

With no fee to submit, local officials can use the online form to check their agencies' performance against a detailed list of point-scoring practices and policies, almost all of which go beyond legal requirements in the California Public Records Act.

An NBBLO official says the Leadership Circle idea "is based upon a financial transparency program in Texas and was influenced by direct experience with the good, bad and the ugly in municipalities with regard to public records requests. It was created to provide a certification for city council members to be proud of. . . In Texas, Gold financial transparency has been achieved by several cities."