Digital Democracy Report – from the Minnesota Government Information Access Council – 1996

This report was released by the Minnesota Government Information Access Council (WayBack Archive) in December, 1996. In 1994, an extensive list of policy questions that I drafted helped launch this important policy exploration funded by our state legislature.

As a Senior Planner with the Information Policy Office (now part of the Office of Technology) in the Department of Administration, I provided extensive staff assistance to this council and drafted many parts of this very collaborative document. Like so many useful government documents, this document is not longer available online from the State of Minnesota directly. So here is the text below.

(Correction – A version scanned from the paper version by the Legislative Reference Library is now online.)

MINNESOTA
GOVERNMENT INFORMATION
ACCESS COUNCIL

DIGITAL DEMOCRACY

Minnesota Citizens’ Guide for Government Information PolicyTABLE OF CONTENTS

Government Information Access Council: Digital Democracy

Citizens’ Guide for Government Policy in the Information Age

Executive Summary……………………………………………. iA. Recommendations…………………………………. i

B. Principles……………………………………………. iii

I. Introduction………………………………………………. 1

A. Tools of Democracy………………………………. 1

B. Vision………………………………………………….. 2

II. Recommendations……………………………………… 3

A. System Design……………………………………… 4

B. Training……………………………………………….. 4

C. Government On-line……………………………… 5

D. Information Policy Organization

and Enforcement…………………………………… 6

E. Community Access………………………………… 7

F. Additional Recommendations………………….. 8

III. Guiding Principles……………………………………… 12

Appendices

A. The Government Information Access Council (GIAC)………………………. 19

B. GIAC Enabling Legislation, and the Minnesota Data Practices Act…….. 25

C. Nominal Group Process Used for Recommendation Prioritization………. 31

D. Working Group Objectives and Report Excerpts……………………………….. 32

E. British Columbia Model for Independent Commissioner of

Freedom of Information and Privacy………………………………………………… 58

F. Bibliography and Resources……………………………………………………………. 59

G. GIAC Member Additional Comments………………………………………………. 60

H. Reader Comment/Feedback Form…………………………………………………….. 61

DIGITAL DEMOCRACY

Government Information Access Council

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Minnesota Government Information Access Council (GIAC) was created in 1994 by the Minnesota State Legislature for the following purposes: to improve public access to government information and, therefore, to improve the democratic process, through the use of information technology; and to help government become more efficient, effective and responsive to the public through the use of information technology.

GIAC is a broadly representative group of 29 members who have met to provide vision and leadership for the tremendously exciting and challenging issues that the Ainformation age@ brings to a democracy. The Council embraced input from additional citizen members in their Work Groups, and traveled across the state conducting public meetings to include any interested individual or organization; all to gain inclusion and capture the collective wisdom of the people.

The vision guiding the Government Information Access Council is an ideal of more open government and more participatory citizens. All policy for access to and dissemination of government information and services must revolve around this philosophy; therefore, GIAC recommends that the following vision statement be formally adopted in statute as a guidepost for all future planning: A primary purpose of providing information access is open government.

A series of recommendations and a review of the GIAC basic principles is offered in this report. Although many important issues remain to be resolved, these can form the foundation for action on the part of elected officials and other government decision makers as deliberations proceed on how to enhance Minnesota=s position as a leader in quality of life. The tools of technology can and will affect Minnesotans= opportunities, rights and responsibilities. Thoughtful consideration of the guidance, observations and needs of the citizens will serve our state and our country well as leaders establish policies on information technology and applications.

I. RECOMMENDATIONS

Specific action is required to move forward in the implementation of the vision. To that end, GIAC has made the following recommendations:

A. Systems Design: All new or redesigned electronic government systems containing public information and services should fully integrate electronic public access to the information and services, and they should be interoperable to the greatest extent possible.

B. Training: Comprehensive training and education programs for all government personnel should be available. Such training should result in government personnel who are knowledgeable about fulfilling obligations and requirements under Minnesota=s information policy laws and practices; and are able to use current technologies and technology applications to improve public access to information and services. In addition, incentives should be provided for collaborative efforts to make available comprehensive training and education programs for citizens. The object of this training is to result in citizens who are knowledgeable about their rights under Minnesota=s information policy laws and are able to use current technologies and technology applications to access public information and services.

C. Government On-line: North Star should be recognized as Minnesota government=s official electronic access point. The State of Minnesota should implement a government information locator and index system that is compatible with established standards for government documents, information and services. The public should be enabled and encouraged to communicate electronically with elected officials, policy makers in government to encourage active citizenship. An on-line clearinghouse that includes service models, best practices, and an index of government on-line activities should be developed through the North Star Project. Local government representatives should be involved in determining what information and services should be provided by local governments, and in establishing a local government model for delivering information and services via North Star.

D. Information Policy Organization and Enforcement: Government units should review current practices to ensure that procedures for public access to public information and services are fully and clearly articulated, whether those procedures involve paper or electronic dissemination. To simplify proper understanding and use, existing government information policy law should be codified into a single chapter or a series of related chapters of Minnesota statute. Alternative methods to the resolution of disputes in a simple and less expensive manner than through the courts, need to be established. A Joint Legislative Commission on Information Policy should be created to assume primary responsibility for the development of uniform public information policy, strip old statutes of the confusing mix of nomenclature, and work with new legislation to ensure consistent language and policy results.

E. Community Access: Additional funding should be made available for the development of technology-supported government information and service projects at the local level. To ensure that citizens in every community have access to public, on-line government information and services, terminals for general public use should be made available during locally determined times at community sites. Comprehensive and ongoing outreach program to inform citizens about information technologies and services should be established to help them realize the potential benefits that information technologies offer to individuals, organizations and communities. Such an outreach program would identify which government organizations serve as the liaisons to support local grass-roots initiatives for developing information technologies and telecommunications infrastructure; and help citizens identify and use various public and private assistance that is available for improving the community=s economic development opportunities through the use of technologies. The use of interactive regional teleconferencing, public access channels and public broadcast facilities should be encouraged, with emphasis given to the provision of access to government decisionmaking.

F. Additional Recommendations: Further recommendations were discussed at length by GIAC, and are also offered in this report. They address collaborative, multi-government efforts to share information; Universal Service; equitable access; the matter of costs associated with getting government information; and the notification of the public as to the public availability of information.

It is the hope of all members of the Government Information Access Council that the publication of Digital Democracy, Minnesota Citizens= Guide for Government Information Policy, provides guidance to elected officials in providing improved public access to government information, improves the democratic process and helps government become more efficient, effective and responsive to the public as it incorporates information technology into the daily conduct of business.

II. GOVERNMENT INFORMATION ACCESS COUNCIL PRINCIPLES

The recommendations that are forwarded in this report are based on the 12 guiding principles that were adopted by GIAC in January 1996. Those principles are:

1. Access to government information is a fundamental right of all citizens in a democracy.

2. Responsive provision of information access and the dissemination of government information are essential functions of government.

3. Public access to government information shall be free, and any charge for copies shall not exceed marginal cost.

4. All citizens, regardless of geographic, physical, cultural, socio-economic status or other barriers, shall have equitable and affordable access to government information.

5. The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and other information access policy laws must be complied with and enforced at all levels of government.

6. Privacy is a right that must be maintained and protected in the context of changing technology.

7. Government information shall exist in the public domain to the greatest extent possible.

8. Government shall ensure that government employees and citizens have the tools, applications, training and support for electronic access.

9. Interaction among citizens, governments, businesses and organizations shall be promoted through the use of information technology and networks.

10. Citizens shall be enabled and encouraged to be consumers and producers of electronic information and services.

11. The State shall ensure that all citizens of Minnesota have the benefits of Universal Service.

12. Effective competition in telecommunications services in Minnesota is an essential component of effective access and interactive use of government information and services in electronic form.

DIGITAL DEMOCRACY

Government Information Access Council

I. INTRODUCTION

In 1995, the Government Information Access Council (GIAC) developed principles to guide elected officials and other government officials in decisions that impact citizen access to government information. Those principles were the basis for the recommendations that follow.

It is significant to note that GIAC is made up of a diverse group of individuals who think and feel passionately about government and information in the emerging electronic age.

Their backgrounds, experiences and commitments mold their beliefs on the subject, and during the process of considering the issues that was apparent. GIAC members, as well as additional citizen members, formed four Work Groups: Citizens and their Government – Tools of Democracy, Regulation and Tax Policy, Information Access Principles, and Demonstration Projects, Equal Access and Outreach. These Work Groups were the springboard for the recommendations presented in this report. For a summary of the Work Group objectives and supplemental information generated by them, please turn to Appendix D.

Of particular importance is the identification of certain tools of democracy that can and should be made available as quickly as possible. The Minnesota Data Practices Act stands out as the foundation for assuring that government information is publicly accessible. In addition, GIAC enabling legislation identifies some types of specific information or data that is essential to allow citizens to participate fully in a democratic system of government, and the following list of tools include those and core information resources that are important to public understanding of government activities. These documents or publications are currently accessible in traditional format, and most have statewide application. Electronic dissemination and access is viewed as necessary to carry out the spirit of the GIAC legislation.

A. TOOLS OF DEMOCRACY

The following list identifies the particular documents, data or information that are considered the basic electronic tools of democracy:

(1) directories of government services and institutions; Minnesota Guidebook to State Agency Services; State of Minnesota Telephone Directory; Legislative Directories

(2) legislative and rulemaking information, including public information newsletters; bill text and summaries; bill status information; rule status information; meeting schedules; and the text of statutes and rules (including index and search tools); state register

(3) official documents, releases, speeches and other public information issued by the Governor=s Office and Constitutional Officers, such as Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer=s Office, and the State Auditor=s Office

(4) the text of other government documents and publications such as the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals opinions and general judicial information; Ethical Practices Board, election finance and other reports; state budget information; local government documents like city codes, and county board minutes

In addition to these tools, government should be encouraged to offer services to the public electronically to improve convenience of access to those services. Examples include such services as applications for licenses such as driver=s or hunting licenses, the filing of tax returns or applications for employment.

B. VISION

The vision guiding the Government Information Access Council, as well the recommendations in this report, is an ideal of more open government and more participatory citizens. The two mutually encourage one another: open government–government that makes its information readily accessible to citizens– allows citizens to become more knowledgeable and therefore participatory; more participatory citizens demand that their government be more open, and therefore more efficient, effective and responsive.

All policy for access to and dissemination of government information and services must revolve around this philosophy; therefore, GIAC recommends that the following vision statement be formally adopted in statute as a guidepost for all future planning in this area:

A primary purpose of providing information access is open government.

We are at an evolving, chaotic and transitory time in history, and the lively discussions that have taken place through GIAC represent a healthy discourse that will help us as a state and as a nation take action with awareness. Our country is a patchwork of differing points of view, and finding consensus on topics is both important and challenging. As we travel through this difficult period, government is presented with issues that demand immediate decision making as well as ongoing adjustments as we learn their long-term impacts. Readers of this report can take assurance that the recommendations and principles stem from a vision about democracy, equity and efficiency, and that this is a dialogue that will continue far into the future.

II. RECOMMENDATIONS

In its second year of meetings, the Government Information Access Council concentrated on refining, and then prioritizing, specific recommendations to the Legislature for improving public access to government information and for improving government efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness through the use of information technology. In order to establish these priorities, members of the Priorities Committee generated and applied the following criteria:

& Will the recommendation improve and expand citizen access to government information?

& Will the recommendation improve government efficiency and effectiveness?

& Is the recommendation a foundational initiative, which must be established before other recommendations can be implemented?

& Will the recommendation clarify policy and principles that impact government information and services?

& Is the recommendation cost-effective?

Based on this criteria the following five recommendations were those categories in which most consensus was demonstrated. In the section following these five priorities, all other recommendations are discussed. Each of the recommendations in this section of the report have strong advocates within GIAC; recognizing that a simultaneous effort may disperse energy and resources too broadly, the Priorities Subcommittee of GIAC used a nominal group process to establish the criteria listed above to rank order the comprehensive array of recommendations. A summary of that process is available as Appendix C. Individual members of GIAC were offered the opportunity for comment to allow for the expressions of any concerns that may have been missed in the consensus building process. These comments are noted in Appendix G.

Recommendation Categories:

A. System Design

B. Training

C. Government On-line

D. Information Policy and Enforcement

E. Community Access

F. Additional Recommendations

A. System Design

New information technologies can eliminate barriers that sometimes exist between citizens and their government, as well as between government units themselves. If state and local governments make their public information and services available electronically, even more citizens will have ready access to the information and services, no matter what their geographic distance from the government unit that manages and maintains the information, no matter what time of day they want to access the information and services. Further, if government systems for delivering information and services are interoperable, new possibilities for improving efficiency and effectiveness arise.

To ensure that government units become more efficient and effective by taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by information technologies, GIAC makes the following recommendations:

  • 1. All new or redesigned electronic government systems containing public information and services should fully integrate electronic public access to the information and services.
      • 2. New or redesigned government systems should be interoperable to the greatest extent possible.
      • 1. Comprehensive training and education programs for all government personnel should be available. These programs should result in government personnel who are:
      • 2. Incentives should be provided for collaborative efforts between the private sector, libraries, educational programs and institutions, state and local government, non-profit organizations and other community groups to make available comprehensive training and education programs for citizens. These programs should result in citizens who are:
      • 1. North Star should be recognized as Minnesota government=s official electronic access point, and each agency should assist in enhancing and expanding the North Star functions.
    • B. TrainingIt is important to remember that information technologies are only a tool, almost meaningless in their own right. Without ongoing training and education programs for the people who collect, manage, generate and provide electronic information and services, and for the citizens who use and benefit from them, the information technologies that can improve our lives will never realize their potential. Government personnel, for example, must clearly understand what information and services are to be provided, and they must know the most efficient and effective way to provide them. Citizens must know what information and services are available, and they must know how to access them.

      To ensure that both government and citizens are able to take full advantage of these valuable resources, GIAC makes the following recommendations:

      a) knowledgeable about fulfilling obligations and requirements under Minnesota=s information policy laws and practices; andb) able to use current technologies and technology applications to improve public access to information and services.

      a) knowledgeable about their rights under Minnesota=s information policy laws; andb) able to use current technologies and technology applications to access public information and services.

      C. Government On-line

      Effective democracy requires ready public access to government information and services. Citizens need to have one clearly identified starting point from which to access all government information and services. Public government information and services must be well indexed, easily navigable, and presented in a uniform fashion. Further, citizens must be steadily informed on the issues being considered by elected officials, have forums for discussing the issues among themselves, and have clear, efficient ways to offer feedback and suggestions to decision-makers. Information technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to expand and improve this kind of citizen participation in government and its decision-making processes.

      To ensure that Minnesota advances with its global leadership position for on-line citizen participation in government, GIAC makes the following recommendations:

      • 2. The State of Minnesota should implement a government information locator and index system for government documents, information and services. This system should be compatible with all national and international standards for such systems.
      • 3. The public should be enabled and encouraged to submit comments and other correspondence electronically to elected officials, policy makers and government units at the state and local level.
      • 4. Active citizen participation and input should be encouraged in the official public decision-making process through the use of electronic interactive forums. In particular, all public decision-making bodies should be encouraged to provide electronic interactive forums as a part of the official public-input processes, and also to participate in electronic interactive forums hosted by groups outside of government.
      • 1. Government units should review current practices to ensure that procedures for public access to public information and services are fully and clearly articulated, whether those procedures involve paper or electronic dissemination.
    • D. Information Policy Organization and EnforcementUnderstanding of state information policy is a challenge for many that conduct business with or for the state. The various Minnesota statutes contain a confusing mix of nomenclature and this sometimes yields inconsistent policy results. Emerging technologies make information policy issues even more complex, and make comprehensive, long-range planning crucial. All policy, no matter how clear and well-planned, will sometimes give rise to disputes. Currently, the only way to resolve such disputes is through a cumbersome legal process.

      To ensure that public information policy is consistently and uniformly developed, applied and enforced and to establish an alternative dispute resolution process that is simple, quick, and non-litigious, GIAC makes the following recommendations:

      • 2. Existing information policy law should be codified into a single chapter or a series of related chapters of Minnesota statutes.
      • 3. To assist with the resolution of disputes in a simple and less expensive manner than through the courts, alternative methods need to be established. One example reviewed by GIAC was an independent Commissioner for Freedom of Information and Privacy. Such a commissioner would have sufficient authority and political independence to:
      • 4. A Joint legislative Commission on Information Policy should be created. The commission would assume primary responsibility for the development of uniform public information policy, stripping old statutes of the confusing mix of nomenclature, and working with new legislation to ensure consistent language and policy results.
      • 1. Additional funding should be made available to award grants, or matching grants in collaboration with the Regional Initiative Funds, for the development of technology-supported government information and service projects at the local level. Priority should be given to projects that provide 24-hour access.
    • a) ensure that government units comply with the access and data practices provisions of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and other state information access and data practices laws, policies and procedures;b) inform and educate the public about Minnesota=s access and data practices laws, policies and procedures;

      c) resolve disputes about the enforcement of access and data practices laws, policies and procedures; and

      d) conduct research on access and data practices issues in order to provide advice and comment on proposed government legislation, systems, programs and policies.

      See Appendix E for more information on a model for a Minnesota Commissioner for Freedom of Information and Privacy, based on that of the Canadian province of British Columbia.

      E. Community Access

      The United States Advisory Council on the National Information Infrastructure concluded that the Aquickest, most efficient way@ to give every citizen access to the Information Superhighway by the year 2000 is Ato bring the Superhighway to the neighborhood–to schools, libraries, and community centers.@

      To ensure that local communities receive the support, encouragement and impetus they need to bring all levels of government information and services into their neighborhoods, GIAC makes the following recommendations:

      • 2. To ensure that citizens in every community have access to public, on-line government information and services, terminals for general public use should be made available during locally determined times at community sites (such as educational institutions, libraries, and county government centers) where electronic network connections are funded in part by state dollars.
      • 3. A comprehensive and ongoing outreach program to inform citizens about information technologies and services should be established. This outreach program should result in citizens who:
      • 4. The use of interactive regional teleconferencing, public access channels and public broadcast facilities should be encouraged and funded where appropriate. A major emphasis should be the provision of statewide access to legislative and executive deliberations, and regional or local access to local government deliberations.
    • a) realize the potential benefits that information technologies offer to individuals, organizations and communities;b) know what government organizations serve as the liaisons to support local grass-roots initiatives for developing information technologies and telecommunications infrastructure; and

      c) can identify and use various public and private assistance that is available for improving the community=s trade and economic development opportunities through the use of technologies.

      F. Additional Recommendations

      In addition to the highest priorities listed above, there are also a number of other recommendations that are very important to the realization of the vision.

      Additional Recommendation Categories:

      Collaborative, Multi-government Efforts

      Universal Service

      Equitable Access

      Cost

      Information Access Awareness

      1. Collaborative, Multi-government Efforts

      State and local governments collect and manage vast amounts of information. Until now, these efforts have been relatively isolated: government units did not necessarily cooperate with one another to collect or provide information and services. New information technologies, however, can eliminate these kinds of barriers between government units and provide opportunities for new collaborative efforts. An excellent basis for this work would be an electronic rulemaking information system used by state agencies with rulemaking authority.

      To ensure that all government units begin to take full advantage of the collaborative possibilities offered by information technologies, GIAC makes the following recommendations:

      a. Incentives should be provided for government units to continue and expand collaborative, multi-government efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness when collecting and disseminating information and meeting requests for public information. Such collaborative efforts might include sharing databases and access points; obviously, this would be greatly assisted by a basis of interoperability.

      b. To promote public understanding of and participation in the state=s rule-making process through electronic access, a task force should be established to:

      1) review the existing rulemaking process in order to develop a proposal for an electronic rulemaking information system; and

      2) ensure electronic public access to that information system.

      2. Universal Service

      The term Universal Service was originally associated with electronic communications features provided by regular telephone service. As new technologies have emerged, the state has modified the definition of Universal Service to include new features such as touch-tone, 911 access, and single line service. This definition should periodically be reviewed and revised to reflect changing standards.

      To ensure that citizens of Minnesota can take advantage of all information technologies and the opportunities and advantages they provide, GIAC makes the following recommendations:

      a. Through adaptation of its methods and jurisdiction for regulation of telecommunications services, government should assure that Universal Service is achieved.

      b. In conjunction with the Federal Telecommunications Act, a fund designed to provide Universal Service should be researched and created.

      c. Consistent with the Federal Telecommunications Act, the Legislature should act to expand the definition of Universal Service, and periodically define the specific products, services and infrastructure requirements which constitute Universal Service.

      3. Equitable Access

      Information technologies can remove a variety of barriers which have until now made it difficult, if not impossible, for certain citizens to access vital government information and services. Barriers including physical limitations and language can be minimized when information and services are delivered electronically.

      To ensure that all citizens have equitable access to vital government information and services, GIAC makes the following recommendations:

      a. Following the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and any other existing applicable state or local government disabilities regulations, government units should be required to accommodate those with disability or impairment when developing on-line government information and service systems, and when providing public sites for access to those systems.

      b. A policy for providing electronic access to existing and future Minnesota government information and services in languages other than English (as requested) should be established, similar to the current Communication Services Act.

      c. In order to make it easier for businesses to interact with Minnesota state government, Minnesota state government procurement policies should be modified under a transition plan to an electronic commerce environment. The policies should closely parallel those of the federal government as dictated by the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994, and any subsequent federal procurement laws and regulations.

      d. Existing public access projects, such as Access Minnesota and METC grants, should continue to ensure that all Minnesota communities, both rural and urban, have equitable and reasonable access to public on-line government information and services. Communities with limited resources should be targeted for supplementary assistance in establishing public access sites.

      4. Cost

      The cost of accessing public government information and services can be an additional barrier to certain citizens. Many kinds of basic information must be made available at no cost, particularly if the information affects citizens= rights and responsibilities.

      To ensure that this barrier is minimized, if not eliminated, GIAC makes the following recommendations:

      a. The Legislature should establish in statute a definition for Amarginal cost@ (if it opts to replace the current term Aactual cost@) regarding fees assessed for copies or electronic transmission of government data. GIAC recommends that the Legislature adopt the definition of marginal cost articulated in the GIAC Principles (see footnote, Principle 3).

      b. The existing Acommercial value@ section of Minn. Stat. 13.03 should be reviewed in developing any new information access policy. GIAC recommends that all fees for copies and electronic access collected by government units be retained by the government unit to improve and accelerate public access to its information and services. Further, GIAC recommends that the Legislature retain the current practice of requiring government units who charge for value-added service to obtain specific permission from the Legislature.

      5. Information Access Awareness

      a. The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act should be amended to require agencies requesting public data from citizens to inform those citizens that the data being requested are public data under Minnesota law, and that anyone may access public data.

      IV. GUIDING PRINCIPLES

      These are the principles adopted by the Government Information Access Council in 1996.

      1. Access to government information is a fundamental right of all citizens in a democracy.

      1.1 Citizens can more effectively contribute to democratic, economic and social progress when they can access and use public information without restraint.

      1.2 Basic access rights include the equal and timely right to free inspection, to receive copies, and to access and use government information in all forms and media for any legal purpose.

      1.3 All Minnesota government data should be presumed to be public unless otherwise classified by statute.

      2. Responsive provision of information access and the dissemination of government information are essential functions of government.

      2.1 Creating, disseminating and providing access to information is a mission of government units and such activities should be funded by public dollars just as are any other essential government functions.

      2.2 Government has a duty to collect and disseminate information to further its public purpose only, not for its economic gain.

      2.3 To achieve convenient and cost-effective public access, intergovernmental coordination and organization of information–from creation to preservation–is essential.

      2.4 Government units shall support the essential functions of citizen assistance and education, and provision of information locator tools.

      2.5 Government shall acknowledge the ATools of Democracy@ as essential for citizens to actively participate in and understand government, and shall make those tools available in various media, including electronically, at no cost to the user.

      3. Public access to government information shall be free, and any charge for copies shall not exceed marginal cost.

      3.1 Inspection of public data in all media must be available free of charge. Copies shall be available for duplication or electronic transmission for free, or at a cost not to exceed the marginal cost of dissemination.

      3.2 Recovery of development costs or generation of revenue from information created or collected with public funds shall not occur without specific statutory authorization.

      4. All citizens, regardless of geographic, physical, cultural, socio-economic status or other barriers shall have equitable and affordable access to government information.

      4.1 Geographic and economic barriers to access shall be eliminated by making tax incentives and funding mechanisms available to citizens, government jurisdictions, private businesses and especially providers of content, connectivity and site access for linked community-business networks.

      4.2 Barriers to information access shall be eliminated in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

      4.3 Government information access barriers that are based on language and culture shall be eliminated by implementing, in accordance with federal and state laws, multilingual and multicultural components.

      4.4 The State shall ensure equitable and affordable access to government information through a variety of public-private funding mechanisms including tax incentives, low-interest loans, public appropriations, private foundations and charitable contributions.

      5. The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and other information access policy laws must be complied with and enforced at all levels of government.

      5.1 Training of government personnel and citizen education regarding the rights granted under access and data practices laws is essential for compliance with those laws.

      5.2 Additional non-litigious mechanisms for effective enforcement of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and other access laws shall be developed and implemented.

      6. Privacy is a right that must be maintained and protected in the context of changing technology.

      6.1 The public=s right to know should be balanced with individuals, businesses and organizations right to privacy.

      6.2 Users of government information shall have a protectable privacy interest.

      7. Government information shall exist in the public domain to the greatest extent possible.

      7.1 Stewardship of government information, and the value of that information, is a function of government.

      7.2 Government shall protect the right of citizens to use public government information for any legal purpose and shall promote the use of public government information to meet public purposes.

      7.3 Use of government information should not be constrained by copyright or copyright-like controls except under limited circumstances.

      7.4 A government unit may exercise copyright on certain government information pursuant to criteria established by the Legislature.

      7.5 In no case should government=s exercise of copyright be used to deny public access for inspection or to receive copies of public government information.

      8. Government shall ensure that government employees and citizens have the tools, applications, training, and support for electronic access.

      8.1 The State shall provide training to government personnel across all levels of government on information access and service technologies, applications and policies which shall be supported by additional state appropriations.

      8.2 The State shall establish a variety of outreach and public relations programs statewide to educate and inform citizens on the value and use of emerging information access and service technologies used by the State.

      8.3 The State shall provide support to citizens who require assistance accessing government information and services electronically on a twenty-four-hours-per-day, seven-days-per-week basis.

      9. Interaction among citizens, governments, businesses and organizations shall be promoted through the use of information technology and networks.

      9.1 Government shall accelerate the provision of its services through technology and networks which encourage electronic interaction among citizens, businesses and organizations

      9.2 Publicly-supported, statewide electronic access to government information and services through multiple technologies and public access points is essential for information dissemination and efficient delivery of government services.

      9.3 A diversity of information sources in the public, private and non-profit sectors should be encouraged to provide the public with access to government information resources.

      9.4 The State shall establish timetables for statewide electronic public access to government information and services.

      9.5 Government shall support public and private on-line efforts to ensure the development of on-line public spaces for discussion of public issues, civic participation, and problem-solving.

      9.6 Government shall increase its use of electronic communication infrastructures and promote their use in the professional work of government staff.

      9.7 Demonstration projects and outreach efforts shall be promoted and/or developed by government at all levels.

      9.8 Government shall base its investment in the development and provision of electronic services on the long-term economic and social benefits of those investments.

      10. Citizens shall be enabled and encouraged to be consumers and producers of electronic information and services.

      10.1 State policies should encourage symmetry in the access and dissemination of information.

      10.2 State policies shall support individual and community economic vitality through effective and efficient electronic information and services.

      10.3 The State shall provide individuals, libraries, educational institutions, non-profits and businesses with tax incentives or other financial assistance to acquire and use equipment, applications, content, infrastructure, training and other tools to stimulate demand for electronic access to government information and services.

      10.4 The State should provide libraries and public and private educational institutions with ongoing financial assistance for recurring costs of electronic access to government information and services.

      11. The State shall ensure that all citizens of Minnesota have the benefits of Universal Service.

      11.1 The Legislature and Administration shall periodically define the specific products, services, and infrastructure requirements which constitute Universal Service.

      11.2 The State shall establish a fund to provide Universal Service. Support for such Universal Service Fund should be equitably assessed on all providers of telecommunications services.

      12. Effective competition in telecommunications services in Minnesota is an essential component of effective access and interactive use of government information and services in electronic form.

      12.1 The State shall continue to adapt its methods and jurisdiction for regulating providers of telecommunications services toward the point where effective competition in telecommunications services ensures reasonable cost telecommunications services throughout the state, and ensures development of telecommunications infrastructure throughout the state.

      12.2 Until such time as there is effective competition in telecommunications services throughout the state, the State shall have the legal power and the practical ability, within the construct of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, to intercede in the market so as to avoid or prevent pricing disparities among groups of customers and/or regions of the state, and to ensure development of the telecommunications infrastructure throughout the state.

      12.3 At such time as there is effective competition in telecommunications services throughout the state, the State=s oversight of the telecommunications services market shall be limited to the extent necessary to ensure Universal Service, interoperability of telecommunications systems, and consumer protection as is provided in other competitive markets.

      12.4 The State shall create a formal mechanism to coordinate policy formation and oversight with respect to appropriations, regulatory, and tax policy to ensure continuity and consistency among federal, state and local policies which affect telecommunications services.