Public access to government documents is vital to the health of any free society. Barring some extraordinary circumstances — national security, for instance — accountability demands that such records be open and available to those who seek to review them.
Unfortunately, too many government agencies and bureaucrats reflexively take the opposite approach, withholding information until specifically ordered to provide it. That’s why Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya deserves a ton of credit for seeking to digitalize all of her office’s records to make it easier for members of the public to find them online.
“Just like Google, so it’s simple for the user,” she told the Review-Journal.
The Clark County Commission last week granted Ms. Goya permission to apply for a $100,000 grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission to partially fund the project, which could take years to complete. The office’s documents date back more than 100 years to 1909 and are currently stored in filing cabinets and cardboard boxes.
Ms. Goya expects her staff will unearth little pieces of lost history during the effort. “We believe with this project we’ll find a lot of things we didn’t even know about,” she said. “It’s like a treasure hunt.”
Indeed, not only will the finished product make it more convenient for anyone to search for and locate information in the county archives, it will also help preserve a historical record that otherwise would be subject to deterioration in paper form.
Plenty of government projects aren’t worth the taxpayer money necessary to support them. Ms. Goya’s worthwhile endeavor isn’t one of them.