According to statistics from the Pew Research Center, 74% American adults use the Internet and nearly 59% of those individuals use it to visit a government website. There are no statistics, however, for what these visits yield.
In early 2006, Common Cause Massachusetts began auditing municipal websites and found that only 24 municipalities in the state posted basic records online (governing board minutes and agenda, budget, by-laws, and, if applicable, town meeting warrant and results). This year the number has risen to 117 and signifies nearly a 400% increase in three years. However, this is still only a third of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns and there are still 30 municipalities that don’t have websites at all.
Each March, the American Society of Newspaper Editors holds an event called Sunshine Week which is intended to increase awareness about the importance of governmental transparency. Let’s use this as an opportunity to pay notice to those who have worked hard to improve access to public information, while recognizing that we still have a ways to go.