Online Training on Maryland's Open Meetings Act Now AvailableAG Gansler and UMD's
Institute for Governmental Service and Research join in effort to educate political leaders, government employees, reporters and the public
Baltimore, MD (May 23, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and the University of Maryland's Institute for Governmental Service and Research have announced the availability of a new online class on Maryland's Open Meetings Act. The class is designed for elected officials, public employees, members of the media and any Marylander interested in open government who wishes to become more familiar with the requirements of the Act.
“Giving people an easier way to gain a working knowledge of the Open Meetings Act promotes a more open and honest government,” said Attorney General Gansler. “We're proud to be part of this online resource that is available to any Marylander who has an interest in good government practices, and we're grateful for the expertise that the Institute for Governmental Service and Research brings to this initiative. ”
Maryland's Open Meetings Act online class is immediately available to the public at the Institute for Governmental Service and Research's website (www.igsr.umd.edu/VLC/OMA/). The full text of the Act, as well as information about Maryland's Public Information Act, is also available online at the Attorney General's Open Government page. The Office of the Attorney General and the Institute for Governmental Service and Research will keep the class content current, including any potential changes to the Act itself or its interpretation by the courts and the Open Meetings Compliance Board (OMCB).
The class, comprised of 6 lessons and 10 quizzes, takes about 2.5 hours to complete and covers the purpose, mechanics and applicability of the Open Meetings Act. Participants who finish the lessons and pass the quizzes earn a certificate of completion at the end of the class.
Each year, the OMCB issues a report on the number and types of complaints it receives and other information related to Maryland's Open Meetings Act. Citizens, government officials and news media personnel may complain to the OMCB when they believe a public body has not adhered to the Act, and the OMCB issues opinions on whether the complaint is justified. From July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, the OMCB received substantially more complaints than it had in the previous year.
Public bodies most often run into trouble when holding closed meetings. Maryland's Open Meetings Act has explicit requirements for when meetings may be closed to the public, what can be discussed in those meetings, and what must be provided for the public record. This new online class, which includes statutory language from the Act as well as examples geared to address routinely encountered problems, will be an excellent tool to keep Maryland's government open and transparent.