Government compare and contrast

The campaign season for the Austin city council is rolling. Events are popping up all over the place. I’d vote for a candidate promising truly open government. Just look at something as simple as a telephone directory. For over a decade, the State of Texas has offered a complete and regularly updated on-line telephone directory. It shows the names and titles of the “top” people at each agency, offers some sense of the structure of the agency, and lists the names and telephone numbers of all employees of the agency. In most agencies, the telephone numbers given are direct, other than those for a select group with screened calls. The City of Austin, no matter what the agency, for the most part offers little more than a general number for most departments. The person answering the phone doesn’t like to reveal to what direct line a call is transferred, and some City employees do not rush to give their names unless directly asked for them. Here’s a comparison: the City law department and the State attorney general’s office. The State directory is highly searchable, including by employee name. There was a time when any given City department showed more information than it now does. Why the change?

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