Gov. Deal’s Office Removed Executive Orders from Website
(APN) ATLANTA — On or around August 06, 2014, the Sunlight Foundation, a think tank in Washington, D.C., discovered that Gov. Nathan Deal’s office has been removing executive orders from their website.
The Sunlight Foundation is a “nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government globally and uses technology to make government more accountable to all.”
Through their Open State Project, Sunlight’s summer intern Joy Wang made the discovery.
“Some time over the Thanksgiving holiday last year, the Governor’s office quietly took down nearly three years’ worth of Gov. Nathan Deal’s executive orders, and they haven’t publicly posted a single order since. The office provided no explanation for the removal of the existing orders, and there’s no information on the governor’s website about how to find executive orders,” Wang wrote in her report for the Sunlight Foundation.
“The link to an archive of executive orders from the previous administration of Gov. Sonny Perdue, however, is still fully functional,” the report states.
“Without better public information about the nature of these discretionary appointments and fund transfers, it is very difficult to know who the governor is appointing or what he is choosing to do with state money,” the report states.
“Strangely enough, an initial comparison of the list provided to Sunlight by the Georgia governor’s office and the archive maintained by Georgia Government Publications (GGP) reveals several executive orders in the archives that aren’t included on the governor’s office’s list… None of these actions were announced by his press office, and it was only by combing the archives that we could find this information at all. No one can dispute that the GGP documents are a useful stop-gap resource, but this isn’t what transparency in governance looks like,” the report states.
Emily Shaw, Sunlight’s National Policy Manager noted that Georgia was the only state that did not have gubernatorial executive orders available to the public online.
“This came about because of Joy’s research. We weren’t thinking about Georgia before the project got started,” Shaw told Atlanta Progressive News.
“When the Atlanta Journal-Constitution put it on their blog, that same day the executive orders started appearing again. It’s extremely gratifying to have that information back online for the public to view,” Shaw finished.
“Some of them [orders] were searchable via the Georgia Government Publication Office by keyword only. They didn’t have titles, which makes it difficult to organize. We don’t know why there were no titles; there was just a date and the number,” Wang told APN.
Conclusions from the Sunlight Foundation include:
· “We’ve already found three executive orders that aren’t on the official list and weren’t publicized by the governor’s press office. What else has been effectively obscured from public view and appears only in the Georgia archives?
· “The Governor’s Emergency Fund is a rainy-day fund with a budget of more than $20 million. The Governor authorizes transfers from this fund to support everything from conflict-free public defenders to interest payments on debts owed to the Department of Labor. Where and how else are these funds being spent?
· “News organizations in other states have taken a fine-toothed comb to political contributions made by gubernatorial political appointments. A cursory analysis of campaign finance records for appointees to the Georgia Ports Authority reveals that 12 of the 13 board members and their families have donated over $300,000 dollars to Deal’s election and re-election campaigns. How common are donations from political appointees in Georgia, whether before or after their appointments?”
Today, orders are up and available for viewing but it is not clear how complete the lists are.
According to Joy Wang, “We have received no contact from the Governor’s office.”