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Top 5 California Agencies Advancing Transparency on Twitter

by Jane Susskind, published
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With recent scandals tainting the Obama administration's promise for a more open government, it seems like transparency efforts are hard to come by. Americans trust in government agencies is low, with a majority of citizens concerned with the growing power of the federal government. Amidst the skepticism, however, there are some agencies effectively tweeting their way to transparency.

Here is a list of 5 California accounts advancing transparency on Twitter:

1. Center for Investigative Reporting, @CIROnline (formerly @CaliforniaWatch)

Founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting, @CaliforniaWatch is known for its extensive and thorough analysis on California spending, government waste, and campaign finance. A recent tweet reads: "About 75% of the $43.2M raised by Assembly Dems last year came from interest groups," exemplifying the group's constant effort to follow the money in California.

It's not just original content that advances transparency in the state. The account is proactive in sharing other content found on Twitter, be it from news sources, agencies, or independent reporters. A prime example is this retweet from @ProPublica, which includes an article from the Los Angeles Times:

California Watch uses Twitter to expose its audience to news from all around the web -- not just its own website -- embodying the true spirit of Twitter. With over 22,000 Twitter followers, California Watch makes a genuine effort to spread information and create awareness on issues critical to the advancement of the state.

2. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, @CACorrections

Following an order from the Supreme Court, California faces the daunting task of decreasing the inmate population by 10,000 inmates to reform the "unconstitutionally overcrowded" prison system. At the center of the conflict lies the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which uses its Twitter account to explain California's realignment to the general public, which in 140 characters, is easier said to done.

@CACorrections aggregates the news in a blog post titled, "Daily Corrections Clip." Using Twitter as a platform for further education, the department is able to direct those interested in learning more about realignment efforts, and other issues facing the department, to full-length articles and analysis.

In order to advance transparency, governments must advance information. Making information easy to find,  and easy to share, @CACorrections takes a major step toward a more transparent government -- one only made possible through Twitter.

3. California Secretary of State, @CASOSvote

The office of California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has been hard at work providing followers with election news and statistics, even in the "off-season" of politics. Posting updates on filing deadlines, California legislative votes, and special elections, the @CASOSvote account has been doing its part to increase transparency on Twitter by making election information easy to find and even easier to share.

Beyond posting election updates, @CASOSvote has also been using Twitter to retweet and share information posted by other California news outlets and governmental officials, sharing information from the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee, and the LA times:

While information on local elections is sometimes hard to find, the California Secretary of State is not only sharing valuable information and statistics otherwise lost in translation, but is urging people to get involved in politics.

4. Lieutenant Governor of California, @GavinNewsom

Gavin Newsom has been a long-time active user on Twitter, using the platform to announce his run for lieutenant governor in 2010. Three years later, he is still touting the benefits of the Internet in advancing transparency, which can be examined in closer detail in his new book, “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government."

“The cloud is ubiquity, access, sharing, collaboration, connection. It works for you," he writes. "This is how our twenty-first-century government must operate…It is the first crucial step in moving away from the top-down, bureaucratic, hierarchical government that’s choking our democracy today.”

Scroll through his Twitter feed and you will see not only tweets from him, but a wide away of retweets from actual citizens, giving them a platform to speak and access to his over 1.2 million followers.

5. California Common Sense, @CACSdotorg

California Common Cause, much like California Watch, uses its Twitter feed to share news about California spending, the California budget, and California politics in general. With a focus on government transparency, @CACSdotorg shares both federal and state specific news on #OpenData, research on governmental data, and interactive tools to help readers understand open government:

Using their Twitter feed to share news from the Sacramento Bee, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and Governor Brown, California Common Sense has become one of the top California accounts advancing transparency on Twitter. See for yourself here.

Who are we missing? Share your thoughts below and help us add to the growing list of accounts advancing transparency on Twitter!

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