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Governing, in review

Governing

Governing

Well, okay: Thing about it as a place to begin a debate, as in, “Resolved – that Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has engaged in “new initiatives, including a bold experiment in open management . . .”

The quote is not ours; it comes from Governing magazine, which has named Gregoire one of nine “Public Officials of the Year,” and on top of that putting her on the cover. A nice kudo heading into an election year where her governing style will very much be a subject of debate.

We’ve given Gregoire some credit for aspects of her work in the job (such as her high energy level and tackling major issues, often successfully), but the description in Governing doesn’t match closely with our observation. The unusually bold transparency the magazine describes . . . huh?

The Seattle TimesDavid Postman: “I was a little surprised to read that she was “allowing reporters and citizens into regular meetings where department heads frankly discuss the details of agency performance and how to improve it.” I didn’t know what I was missing at those Government Measurement, Accountability and Performance meetings. Seriously, I’ll have to check one of those out.”

And the Republican quotes of praise in the article? Those’ll be fun for some time in the woodshed.

BUT, THE QUESTION EVOLVES A well-placed e-mailer, however, suggests that Postman and some other reporters who scoff at the open government label may be thinking about disagreements over open records requests rather than efforts to open policymaking. In another article, Governing has this:

For example, Adam Wilson, a reporter who covers Washington state government for The Olympian, says once he discovered the state’s regular “GMAP” sessions, he decided they were among the key “meetings to go to,” if he wanted to stay current on what’s really happening in the capitol.

GMAP, the state equivalent of Baltimore’s “CitiStat,” includes meetings at which various upper-level managers present information to Governor Christine Gregoire or her top executive staff related to performance in a variety of high-level policy areas, ranging from environmental health to social services. What makes GMAP — which stands for “Government Management, Accountability and Performance” — different than most other “stat” efforts is that the sessions are open to the public and the press.

”Those sessions have been fairly enlightening,” says Wilson. “Partly just because you have a format where the governor is listening to reports on progress from cabinet-level staff and so you can actually watch the governor direct government.”

So maybe we shouldn’t scoff.

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