For almost three years I have been observing the workings of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee and the Maine Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability and have yet to be disappointed in the substance of their studies or the procedures they follow.

OPEGA, under the leadership of its director, Beth Ashcroft, is practicing best methods and makes me wish that other agencies were as data driven and focused on delivering actionable results. OPEGA and the Government Oversight Committee make me feel good about paying taxes.

What is more important is that the interactions of the different members of the oversight committee — half state senators and half state representatives, half Democrats and half Republicans — are always positive.

Watching the committee grapple with formulating and accurately defining problems, then improving the formulation based on new data from OPEGA, shows the creativity and wisdom of those who designed and established the committee and OPEGA.

The mile-deep strength of our system of open discussion with fair and realistic compromises needs to be studied by scholars — and to be communicated to those who, unable to attend the meetings, must base their opinions on thin media coverage, and consequently believe our legislators are “do-nothing” and are unable to accomplish simple tasks, to the detriment of those who rely on the government.

The fact is that I have difficulty keeping up with the actionable, reliable and valid information produced by the oversight committee and OPEGA — material that is so word- and number-dense that the House chairman of the committee, Chuck Kruger of Thomaston, calls it “sleepy-eyed stuff.”

I’m not surprised that the traditional media do not cover most of these constructive sessions and products, because the traditional media are rarely present and do not have the time to plow through the mounds of sleepy-eyed details. I’d like to make a respectful suggestion: Have Government Oversight Committee and OPEGA meetings videotaped and archived.

What the oversight committee and OPEGA are doing is truly rare, and their accomplishments are not just a few studies of high quality. The accomplishments are many and deep and have direct positive impact on our entire system of governance and the people who elect our leaders.

Having an archive, possibly in the legislative library, would not take up much space — memory is continuing to drop in price while increasing in storage density.

For the life of me, I’m stunned that no one has yet used the normal, routine workings of the oversight committee and OPEGA as the core component of a real-life course in dynamic, practical governance.

For over a year now, Martha Spiess has been videotaping the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission meetings for the public access Community Television Network, and we might be able to convince her to videotape the Government Oversight Committee and OPEGA proceedings as well.

I’ve been in countries where the oversight committee and OPEGA could not exist, much less function. Guatemala, Cuba, East Germany, Bahamas, Mexico and more — it’s a long list. The sad truth is that the oversight committee and OPEGA could not have existed in many Southern states in the U.S. during the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and into the ’80s.

An archive would be a genuine resource for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as for independent researchers and interested citizens.

The archive will increase in value over time and should be used to show terrorists how absurd is the belief that either actions or thoughts can destroy the Government Oversight Committee and OPEGA, and the other components of representative government — because, as the oversight committee and OPEGA continue to prove, our system is in each of us.

Used to factually, logically and practically counter and negate terrorist recruiting programs, a Government Oversight Committee and OPEGA archive would thus contribute to the preservation and perpetuation of our imperfect system — a system that is, hands down, the best that has ever existed.

Dwight E. Hines is a resident of Livermore.

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