ATLANTA—The City of Atlanta will hire its first ever Transparency Officer and implement numerous new measures focused on transparency, accountability and restoring public trust due to the passage earlier today of legislation proposed by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
“Atlanta has now set the national standard for open government,” said Mayor Bottoms. “This legislation will drastically transform the relationship between city government, the citizens it serves and the local media. My directive to the Administration has been to faithfully keep our promise to instill and promote a culture of integrity and accountability throughout City Hall, which will in turn foster a new level of trust with the people we serve. This is a monumental day for our city.”
The legislation creates a new chapter of the City Code that is dedicated entirely to transparency compliance and enforcement including the handling of Open Records Requests as well as the creation of a new website that allows the public and media to submit and track requests.
The legislation also creates the new position of Transparency Officer, whose responsibilities will include:
• Oversee and assist in enforcement of citywide compliance with the requirements of the Georgia Open Records Act.
• Instill and promote policies and procedures for compliance with the Georgia Open Records Act.
• Investigate allegations of non-compliance with the Georgia Open Records Act in consultation with the City Attorney.
• Alert the appropriate appointing authority, department head, or other similar individual to any potential failure to comply with the policies and procedures established pursuant to this chapter or any violation of the Georgia Open Records Act, including any interference with the response to any records request.
• Evaluate the City’s compliance and report the results of such evaluation to the Mayor and Council on a quarterly basis.
• Establish and implement a mandatory training program regarding Georgia Open Records Act compliance for all employees, elected officials, and Council staff.
Any City employee, vendor or contractor who fails to comply with the new measures and procedures will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Additionally, if applicable, violations of the ordinance by employees, vendors or contractors may be referred for criminal prosecution or civil enforcement.
Atlanta City Council also approved the Mayor’s new legislation requiring paid lobbyists to be registered with the Municipal Clerk. The legislation also directs the Municipal Clerk to establish an online portal that will allow the filing of Lobbyist Disclosure Reports to be searchable and accessible to the public.
The measures build upon the City’s new “Open Checkbook,” unveiled by Mayor Bottoms earlier this month. The online financial portal allows the public to see exactly how their tax dollars are being spent.