Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s commitment to improving government transparency during his two terms in office has earned him recognition as the 2018 recipient of South Dakota Newspaper Association’s “Eagle Award.”
The award is given by the newspaper association to an individual or group that has demonstrated outstanding efforts to protect and enhance open government and the public’s right to know.
Daugaard has improved public access to various state government functions and entities, including the creation of website for searching meeting agendas, minutes and other documents for state boards and commissions. He initiated the boards and commissions website after he became frustrated when he was unable to readily locate the information online.
The governor along with Attorney General Marty Jackley appointed a task force in 2012 to make legislative recommendations for open government issues. Five of the eight recommendations made by the task force ultimately became law.
After he took office during his first term, the governor made public the names of some of the people who are invited to the annual governor’s pheasant hunt in Pierre and the buffalo roundup at Custer State Park. Public access to those lists had long been a contentious issue in the news media prior to Daugaard becoming governor.
Daugaard also has been a consistent supporter of the publication of government public notices such as school board and city council minutes in local newspapers as an effective means for taxpayers to know what local government is doing.
“As a candidate for governor, Dennis Daugaard said he would pursue increased openness, transparency and accountability in government,” said Tim Waltner, former publisher of the Freeman Courier and chair of the SDNA First Amendment Committee. “When he was elected governor, he kept his word. Throughout his two terms in that office, Gov. Daugaard has consistently been an ally and strong advocate in efforts to strengthen South Dakota’s laws protecting citizens’ access to public records and to public meetings.”
Daugaard will receive the award during SDNA’s annual convention May 4 in Sioux Falls.
Among the past recipients of the SDNA Eagle Award were state Senator Corey Brown (2016), Sioux Falls resident Gordon Heber (2010), Attorney General Larry Long (2004) and the justices of the state Supreme Court in 2002, the first year the award was given.
South Dakota Newspaper Association, based in Brookings, represents the state’s 125 weekly and daily newspapers.