To educate and inform newly-elected and appointed officials about the state's Access to Public Records Act (APRA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA), Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin will once again lead an "Open Government 101" summit. The "101" summit will be held on Monday, January 9, 2017 in the Bobby Hackett Theatre at the Community College of Rhode Island Warwick campus, 9:00 a.m. – 12 noon.
"Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is quoted as saying 'sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,' referring to the importance of shining a light on government operations to ensure government is working in the best interest of the citizenry. I share those same sentiments and have long believed that an open and transparent government is a more efficient government," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
The program will commence with remarks by Attorney General Kilmartin and CCRI President Dr. Meghan Hughes. Assistant Attorney General Michael W. Field, chief of the Open Government Unit, and Special Assistant Attorney General Lisa Pinsonneault, will follow with a presentation explaining the statutory requirements of APRA and OMA.
Attorneys will provide an overview of the APRA and will highlight how to determine whether a document is a public record, how to respond to a public record request and how to establish guidelines for public access. The OMA portion of the presentation will highlight how to determine when the OMA applies and when an executive session is appropriate, posting notices, amending agendas and maintaining minutes, as well as a review of frequent trouble areas. The event will close with a Q&A session. The program meets the training and certification requirements under the Access to Public Records Act. For employees newly appointed to handle APRA requests for their respective public bodies, the rules and regulations require certification within one month of being appointed to that position. The certification will be valid for 2017.
"While it is the responsibility of the Office of Attorney General to investigate complaints against public bodies for violations of our open meetings and public records laws, it is my priority to properly educate and train our public officials in these laws. I strongly believe that we achieve open government through education and open dialogue, as opposed to waiting for problems to arise and then punishing mistakes," concluded Kilmartin.