Put public employee salaries online now

July 07, 2011

Baltimore County has just implemented a very basic transparency measure that Howard County ought to copy. It has put the salary of each of its employees, from the county executive to part-time secretaries, online.

Find the human resources page of the Baltimore County government website and you can download a PDF document that lists all 7,700, by name, in alphabetical order and includes their job titles.

This is all information that the local government has stored digitally already, so compiling it for public use requires little in the way of additional time, expense or resources. It presents a significant payoff for the taxpayer, though.

The biggest, most important investment government or any other organization can make is in its people. When citizens can readily monitor how their government makes that investment, they can be better citizens, partners in the maintenance of democracy.

The vast majority of suburban residents have access to the Internet. Most of us use it just about every day. It has revolutionized research of all kinds and is the first place most people turn these days when they're looking for information.

A government's transparency ensures its legitimacy. To the extent possible under the law, government should make information about how it does business readily available to its citizens.

A periodically updated roster of public employees and their salaries will help Baltimore County residents watchdog their local government. Howard County's citizens deserve no less.

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