Government transparency has been a hot-button issue for decades, and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has been working to break down barriers between everyday citizens and those who serve them.
NMFOG aims to help the general public, students, educators, public officials and media and legal professionals understand and exercise their rights under the state’s so-called sunshine laws.
New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act, Open Meetings Act and Arrest Record Information Act, in addition to the federal Freedom of Information Act, all give citizens the right to access public records of governmental affairs.
The foundation, which has been around since 1989, recently hired Susan Boe as its executive director to head up its education and outreach, legislative and litigation matters, financial and administrative duties and fundraising.
According to Boe, the mission of the foundation is “to open government at all levels.”
“It’s a citizen issue,” Boe said. “You can easily go to our website and find out how you can get access to meetings and records.”
Boe, who has lived in New Mexico for nine years, said she believes there is still an issue with truly open government throughout the state.
“The fact that we have had a lot of lawsuits in the state,” she said, “I think maybe speaks to the fact that we have an issue. I can’t speak for the rest of the nation, but it’s always a problem.”
Locally, eastern New Mexicans can utilize NMFOG’s services if they have questions or need guidance on retrieving publicly available governmental records.
Boe said the foundation’s hotline is available for anyone in the state to use.
“The hotline service is free and we have a pretty outstanding legal panel of attorneys that do totally volunteer work,” she said. “If there’s a question I can’t address, they’re very, very helpful.”
NMFOG’s hotline can be reached at (888) 843-9121. The organization’s website is www.nmfog.org.