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Accessible and Accountable Government

Submitted by matt.stirnweis… on Fri, 11/04/2022 - 11:26
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As part of a commitment to restore faith and trust in government, the Governor has worked to instill a culture of transparency and access across Vermont’s Executive Branch. 

Access to Records and Transparency

  • Developed a disclosure plan to expedite the disclosure of documents related to the State’s oversight of the EB-5 program in the Northeast Kingdom linked to fraud by Ariel Quiros. As a result the Department of Financial Regulation released more than 800,000 pages of previously undisclosed documents. The Governor continues to advocate for the remaining documents to be released by the Attorney General’s Office.  

 

  • Issued a directive to all state agencies to ensure compliance with a Court decision to ensure agencies and departments do not charge for records if they are inspected (therefore do not require copies or digital files). 

 

  • Governor Scott and his office, through the legal and communications team, have consistently worked to ensure records are released in accordance with state records law, in a timely manner and with a judicious approach to applying exemptions to ensure records are not withheld unnecessarily. 

 

Access to Government

  • Press Conferences – Governor Scott committed to, and has followed through, with participating in a weekly press conference, including open Q&A with members of the press each week as a way to ensure accountability and that he’s answering to his decisions and actions. 
    • Throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Scott expanded upon this commitment to transparency, access and accountability, hosting three press conferences per week from March 2020-June 2020, then hosting two per week from June 2020-June 2021 before returning to the regular weekly schedule. These briefings were broadcast live on Vermont television stations, and the Governor and his team disclosed weekly data and took questions from every member of the press, often lasting more than 2 hours. 

 

  • Capital for a Day – Governor Scott launched the Capital for a Day initiative in 2018 and again in 2019, visiting all 14 counties for a day each with his entire cabinet and other members of his Administration. This initiative gives Vermonters across the entire state unprecedented access to the leadership team of the Executive Branch, as well as key program staff to help navigate difficult issues and make sure state government sees and hears the challenges and opportunities directly from the field. 

 

  • Constituent Services – Governor Scott has put an emphasis on constituent services in his office, setting a high standard for responsiveness to provide prompt, informed responses and good service. 

 

Accountability

  • Strengthening the Executive Code of Ethics - In his first year in office, Governor Scott issued an Executive Order to strengthen the Executive Code of Ethics, which applies to Executive Branch employees appointed by the governor. Historically, the Code of Ethics has reflected a Governor’s interest in ensuring fairness and impartiality in the conduct of State business. Governor Scott took steps in his Code to raise the bar for his team, including calling on appointees to: 
    • Act as examples and set a civil and respectful tone;
    • Manage electronic communications to facilitate compliance with State law regarding public access to records;
    • Be in good standing with respect to payment of all tax obligations, now including municipal and state taxes;
    • Ensure sexual harassment in the workplace does not occur or persist; and
    • Attend training on issues relating to sexual harassment and governmental ethics at least annually.

 

  • Strengthening State Training Requirements – Under the Scott Administration, all executive branch employees are now required to participate in sexual harassment training classes through the Vermont Department of Human Resources.  
     
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