Sunshine Law Request Automation (OpenDataSTL/BTSTL)

###Make it easier to bring sunlight to Missouri’s state and local governments

Better Together has found that some municipalities fall far short of the openness and transparency required by the Missouri Sunshine Law. Rather than acting on behalf of citizens by readily providing public information, many local governments behave as though sharing information is a large inconvenience.

The over $15,000 spent by Better Together on sunshine costs are symptomatic of many local governments’ lack of transparency. These governments fail to honor the intent of the Sunshine Law. While the law’s requirements are straightforward, its application is inconsistent. It is impossible to review the performance of a government (and to hold officials accountable) if you lack information about the government.

While there are already resources out there for automated FOIA requests, like MuckRock, we want to make it easier to automate this process for reaching the MIsosuri legislation and multiple local governments at once.


Part of this challenge is a compilation of information. We need a way to compile and update local government entities and state agencies, and to keep a current list of the custodians of records for those groups. The next step is automating the sunshine request process, from sending the request, to message tracking, to timing response times, as well as notifying the attorney general that a request was sent.
Much of this could be handled by the MuckRock API, but not all of it, and a MuckRock based application specific to Missouri would make the request process easier and more accessible to residents who might not otherwise make a request.