It was my pleasure this morning to address a group of visitors from Iraq, including the director general of the central bank and an array of high-level government officials who work on everything from urban planning to accounting, finance and administration, as they visited Boise under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The delegation is studying how to strengthen government financial management and transparency, and to learn from U.S. examples in Boise, Scottsdale, Cleveland and Washington, D.C.
I met with them in my capacity as the president of Idahoans for Openness in Government, or IDOG, an all-volunteer non-profit coalition that works to educate Idahoans about our state’s key open government laws, the Idaho Open Meeting Law and the Idaho Public Records Act, with a goal of fostering open government supervised by an informed and engaged citizenry. And here’s the coolest part: They want to start a similar group in their country, where they say government records routinely are closed to citizens.
According to the Department of State, the delegation, which is communicating through interpreters, is examining the decentralized and self-regulating nature of U.S. federalism and how it promotes transparency in government, exploring the role of civil society in fostering good governance and accountability in government, studying decentralized planning and management of budgets and expenditures, and more.