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MaineOpenGov.org is a revolutionary new website which creates some amazing opportunities for enterprising journalists, bloggers, and citizens to ask questions in public and among friends about our state government and back them up with facts.

How and why? The how is simple: Sponsored by the Maine Heritage Policy Center, the MaineOpenGov.org website provides a powerful, usable search engine which allows for thousands of public records to be searched on a variety of metrics. From state employee salaries to state payments to outside contractors, citizens can access a variety of information previously difficult to obtain, or unavailable altogether.

The why is equally simple: Transparency and accountability, two forces which are not only severely lacking in almost every government enterprise, but which can be powerful change agents for citizens to hold their elected (and non-elected) officials accountable.

Anybody with an internet connection (or access to a library) can search for patterns- or even single instances- of data, and use that information to tell their friends, publish it on a blog, or contact their representative(s).

This is big stuff, people of Maine- I hope to dive more into it in the coming weeks, and I encourage other Maine citizens to do the same. It’s at MaineOpenGov.org– give it a minute of your time today, even out of curiosity’s sake.

And on a side note, how have I not heard of the Maine Heritage Policy Center before? Judging by the MaineOpenGov site, as well as their organizational website, they are definitely an organization to watch, right in our own backyard.