Make groups disclose info

The state has to take a harder line with public authorities that refuse to disclose needed information.

For an example, look no further than the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.

The CRG was one of three local economic development agencies recently cited by the state Authorities Budget Office as being “chronically out of compliance” with state law.

While local officials are dissolving the Fulton County EDC and the Johnstown EDC, the CRG appears set to continue – stubbornly and foolishly – insisting it is a private organization.

This newspaper has editorialized before about how the CRG insists on keeping taxpayers in the dark about some of its financial matters – though it will accept their money.

The state Authorities Budget Office previously censured the boards of directors of the CRG and EDC for “persistent failure to comply with state law.” In particular, the ABO said the agencies must be more public with their records.

Yet, the dispute between the CRG – which has received tens of thousands of dollars from Fulton County, and formed a partnership with the government – and the ABO appears to have generated little more than glorified name-calling.

As the ABO noted in its annual report for 2013, “Although the process the ABO has followed to encourage compliance has worked in some cases, the ABO needs stronger enforcement tools to induce recalcitrant public authorities into compliance.”

The state must consider what tools it can give the ABO to bring those public authorities, including the CRG, into compliance.

Otherwise, there is no reason to believe the situation will improve for those who believe government-funded entities need to disclose pertinent details about their operations.