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Iowa Regents Transparency Task force sets new goals after first meeting

BY STACEY MURRAY | APRIL 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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Following the first meeting, the state Board of Regents’ Transparency Task Force has added additional goals and plans for the panel as it moves forward.

The Transparency Task Force hopes for more discussion at its next meeting following the upcoming public hearings for Iowans, along with potentially adding more members to the group.

“We did decide positively to have a series of public hearings and to get the pulse of the public on how they feel about transparency with the board and the institutions,” said John Johnson, the University of Northern Iowa representative on the panel.

The task force listened to presentations from each of the regent universities and special schools to bring the members up to speed on the practices of the universities and the regents.

“I think talking about those practices and ways we can do better will be a better thing for all these institutions,” said University of Iowa interim Vice President for Strategic Communication Mark Braun, the UI’s representative. “We did the initial blush of the discussion we’re going to have.”

The group members decided there would be a series of public hearings before the next meeting in which the public will have the opportunity to comment.

“I think the public will perhaps play off of things that have appeared in papers,” Johnson said.

While the regents and the task force plan to hold public meetings, Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, has introduced a bill in the Iowa Senate that would require the regents to hold four meetings around the state at places other than the regent universities with time allotted for public comment. The Iowa Senate passed the bill, and it will advance to the House.

The end of the meeting raised the idea of adding more members to the nine-person task force to address a possible gap in the panel.

“They did say at the end they were open to adding more people to the task force,” said Kathleen Richardson, a panel member and the executive of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. “There was a gap that became apparent — there could be a proposal for additional people.”

The group was first proposed by Regent President Craig Lang as a means to combat transparency issues. The group works on issues such as public-records requests and identifying information of critical interest to the public.

The task force is composed of representatives from each university, the state Legislature, the regents, and the public. Regent Nicole Carroll leads the panel.

It will present its first report at the June regents meeting.

“There’s a lot that’s going to happen in the next month,” Johnson said. “There seems to be good support for this and an honest search for ideas and input.”


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