Rewriting the law to end the independence of the D.C. Office of Open Government this summer, the D.C. Council at least mandated that the new overseers, the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA), include one member equipped with experience in the challenging terrain of law and policy as government responds to 21st century citizen expectations of government access. But it's not happening.
The five-member board previously concentrated on investigating complaints and punishing government employees who violated ethics rules (for example, misuse of authority or property, conflicts of interest, improper political activity,). Its only role in open government (as the Council had provided in law) was to appoint the office director.
The D.C. Open Government Coalition opposed the change requiring that the whole open government activity report to the board as assigning too much new work to a body ill-equipped (arguing instead for a new specialized and expert board devoted to open government issues alone as in many states).
Now the law says at least one member “shall have particular experience in open government and transparency.”
Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) assured open government supporters during consideration of the controversial structural change (passed without a hearing) that this new and specific requirement showed undiminished Council support for open government.