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The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon-Bibb Agencies Graded for Online Accessibility

Students looked at legal requirements and online information that might be of public interest
Meg Donahue/The Macon Newsroom

When government agencies decide how they are going to spend tax dollars, Georgia law says the public has a right to know about it and attend the meetings where discussions and votes happen.

State law requires agencies to post the time, date and place of their regular meetings at least one week in advance “in a conspicuous place available to the public at the regular place of an agency or committee meeting … as well as on the agency’s website, if any,” according to OCGA 50-14-1.

Agencies are also required to provide an agenda of all matters expected to come before the agency or committee “as far in advance of the meeting as reasonably possible.” However, the law allows an agenda to be shared any time in the two weeks prior to the meeting and does not spell out that this has to be on a website.

When government bodies meet, the minutes of their business are open to the public once those are approved but agencies can choose to make them available sooner, whether approved or not. The minutes should reflect which officials were in attendance, what business was conducted and details on any votes that were made.

While the law specifies how transparent government agencies are supposed to be, many go beyond that by using their website and social media platforms to provide information.

This added public accessibility includes things like contact information for leadership, audio or video recordings of meetings, information on how to file a request for open records, and minutes from past meetings. 

Last month, students at Mercer’s Reg Murphy Center for Collaborative Journalism reviewed nine local agencies on their compliance with state law as well as any extras they provided in making their work as transparent and accessible to the public as possible.

The students used a rubric to grade each agency as satisfactory or unsatisfactory relative to the state’s transparency laws plus a more subjective grade of superior, average or below average for other ways the agency makes itself accessible to the public.

The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority was the only agency that failed to post its regular meeting times as required by law but other agencies went above and beyond what the law requires online by also posting agendas and meeting minutes.

Macon-Bibb Commission, the Bibb County School District, and the Macon-Bibb County Land Bank were all lauded for the information they post online that includes contact information for key staff, links to minutes and agendas, active social media posting, and a way to watch meetings online.

Use the table below to link out to each agency report.

Transparency Online Accessibility
Macon-Bibb County Commission Excellent Superior
Macon Water Authority Excellent Average
Macon Housing Authority Satisfactory Below Average
Bibb Board of Education Excellent Superior
Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority Satisfactory Below Average
Macon-Bibb County Land Bank Excellent Superior
Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority Unsatisfactory Below Average
Macon Transit Authority Satisfactory to Excellent Below Average
Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Satisfactory Average
Transparency Grading Rubric
Excellent: Agency goes above what the law requires for only posting its meeting times and also provided agendas and minutes.
Satisfactory: Agency had its meeting times posted on its website as required by law.
Unsatisfactory: Agency did not have its meeting times and/or agendas posted on its website as required by law.
Online Accessibility Grading
Superior: Agency provided contact information for leadership, audio or video recordings of meetings and minutes from its meetings. Agency also used social media platforms to share information of interest to the public.
Average: Agency provided contact information for leadership and was active on social media but did not have audio or video recordings of meetings and/or minutes from its meetings posted online.
Below Average: Agency didn’t provide contact information for leadership and didn’t regularly post on social media. Agency also did not have audio or video recordings of meetings or minutes from its meetings available online.
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