Philadelphia City Council
Committee on Law and Government
Bill No. 140031
April 28, 2014
I am Patrick Christmas, Senior Policy Analyst at the Committee of Seventy, a non-partisan watchdog organization fighting for honest and effective government, fair elections and better informed citizens.
I’m here to strongly support the proposed ordinance to require notices of regulations proposed by city departments, boards and commissions to be posted on the city’s official website, as well as updates to include the final version following their adoption.
Simply put, this common sense proposal is a no-brainer. Taxpayers should have the easiest possible way to review all public information relating to their government. With proposed regulations and legislation, in particular, the public may wish to comment and perhaps recommend changes.
Most people today expect their government’s website to include a vast array of information. And most governments do. Some do it very, very well.
New York City, for instance, has a website (https://rules.cityofnewyork.us/content/about-nyc-rules) that allows the public to:
- Submit comments and suggestions on newly proposed rules before adoption;
- See a schedule and map locations of upcoming hearings on proposed rules;
- Read finalized rules after they are adopted;
- Search all New York City rules;
- Learn about the rulemaking process;
- View copies of agencies’ regulatory agendas explaining rules they anticipate proposed in the coming year; and
- Sign up for a weekly newsletter to stay current on the latest rulemaking news.
While we do not expect Philadelphia to follow New York City’s model overnight, consolidating information as this website accomplishes is a terrific model worth emulating for the future.
In the meantime, city government can move towards greater transparency and public access by posting proposed regulations on its website immediately, as this proposed ordinance would require. We urge passage by this Committee.