This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Grant at the outset that few people, even relatively informed and active Utahns, may know there is such a thing as a Utah Dairy Commission, a Heber Valley Historic Railroad Authority or a Utah Military Installation Development Authority.
So when those agencies failed, to one degree or another, to follow the open government provisions set by state law, not too many folks were going to notice.
Which is all the more reason why such little-known state agencies should be hewing closely to all state regulations that involve posting meeting notices, minutes and other details about their goings-on.
The good news is that Utah State Auditor John Dougall and his crew have noticed not only that the agencies are there but also that they have been seriously falling down on the job when it comes to keeping their meeting processes open.
In an audit report released Monday, Dougall found that nine different authorities, boards and commissions did a poor to nonexistent job of posting public notices of when and where their meetings would be as well as minutes and audio recordings of those meetings.
Often, auditors found, minutes neglected to note which members voted for and against what motions, often failing to even keep a roll of who attended each meeting.
The dairy commission even had two of its six annual meetings out of state one in Florida and one in Arizona after having given no pubic notice of either.
Those who run these agencies may think it's not worth the bother, given as how the bodies are not only not particularly controversial but also are unlikely to draw very many people to their meetings. Wherever they are.
The agencies involved spend taxpayers money to do things that, at least in the eyes of the Legislature at some time in the past, need to be done. Giving the jobs to independent boards, rather than shoehorning them somewhere into the existing state bureaucracy, suggests that the job at hand is best done by at least a handful of people who bring different kinds of education, training and experience to the table.
That mission is not fulfilled unless the process is also open to the eyes, ears and, sometimes, tongues of others who have knowledge, or at least an interest, on the topic.
If anything, they ought to be going beyond the call of duty, and the letter of the law, to publicize their activities and their existence. It brings more minds to the task, keeps a careful record of what was done, when, by whom and why, in case there are questions later.
And more openness now means fewer questions later, to the benefit of both the agencies and the public.