By Michael Praats | May 13, 2021 at 11:13 AM EDT – Updated May 13 at 2:37 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – In the state of North Carolina, personnel records of public employees are closely guarded secrets, with extremely limited information available to the public. But a new bill in the state Senate would make it much easier to look into employees, and possibly spot problems before they have a chance to get worse.
The Government Transparency Act of 2021, also known as Senate Bill 355, would “create a new requirement that the State provide a general description for each demotion, dismissal, transfer, suspension, separation, or other change in position for each state employee,” according to a summary of the bill.
That’s significant since right now there are only a few things that are made available as public records.
- Name and age
- Terms of any contract.
- Current position, title, and salary.
- Date and general description of the reasons for each promotion.
- Date and type of each dismissal, suspension, or demotion for disciplinary reasons.
As shown, while descriptions are available as public records for any promotions, they are not required for any negative measures taken by an employer.
“This would make it so that it is easier for the public to get records of personnel actions as they related to public employees,” Brooks Fuller, Director at North Carolina Open Government Coalition said.
This would be a significant change in pace for public servants who could be evaluated for their performance by the public. Currently, even if an employee was disciplined for their actions but not fired, or they chose to resign instead of being fired, their records are sealed.
It’s important to note that this bill would not suddenly make all aspects of private records public.
“It’s really important for people to understand that this doesn’t make all personnel records open to public inspection, what this does is this means that when a personnel action is taken, there has to be a general description of the basis for the action,” Fuller said.
From police officers to teachers, the impact of this bill, if made into law, could shine a light into what has been, a void of darkness.
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