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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Executive Order 15-10 Affects Government Transparency

It has been a little over a week since Governor Rauner was sworn into office as Illinois' new governor, and he has already issued five executive orders.   Some of these orders have been given a lot of press coverage (such as the order rescinding former Governor Quinn's final executive orders and the one freezing government spending).  One of the executive orders - Executive Order 15-10 - addresses the Illinois Transparency & Accountability Portal Act ("ITAP Act") and affects local governments.

The ITAP Act became effective in 2013, and requires the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to establish a website where information would be posted about state agency contracts and state employees for public inspection..  20 ILCS 405/405-335.   

More relevant to local governments, the Act also requires  CMS to post a searchable database of information pertaining to "county, township, library district, and municipal employees," that includes: (1) employing unit of local government; (2) employment position title; and (3) current pay rate and year-to-date pay. Under the Act, state agencies, counties, townships, library districts, and municipalities are to cooperate with CMS to furnish the information for CMS to post.

Governor Rauner's Executive Order 15-10 does three things with respect to the ITAP Act.  (You can read the press release about the Order here and the Executive Order here)

First, it requires CMS to distinguish between "Rutan-exempt" hires (state employees that are exempt from the standards set out in Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, 497 U.S. 62 (1990)) on the portal website.  

Second, it requires all state agencies to provide CMS with the "necessary and accurate information" to comply with the Executive Order.

Third, and most important to municipalities, counties, townships and library districts, it states that CMS is required to assist these governmental bodies in providing information to comply with the local government employee provisions of the ITAP Act.  

So, what does this mean for municipalities, counties, townships and library districts?  Well, nothing in the Executive Order or the Act places an affirmative duty on these local government bodies to provide the required employee information.  Instead, the ITAP Act states that the local governments will "cooperate with the Department in furnishing the information necessary for the implementation of this Section within a timeframe specified by the Department."  That suggests that CMS will make a formal request for information from the local governments and provide a specific timeframe for a response.   The assistance required of CMS in the Executive Order doesn't appear to change that, or place any additional obligations on a local government.  Instead, it states that CMS will assist the governments in providing the information that will be posted on the portal website.

I expect that state agencies and local governments will hear from CMS in the coming weeks, as CMS determines how best it can comply with the Executive Order.  Until then, it doesn't appear there is anything for local governments to do to comply with the Order until contacted by CMS.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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