Looking for a way to keep a closer eye on state government in South Dakota?

It’s possible through the Internet.

Just type this address: boardsandcommissions.sd.gov.

Governor Dennis Daugaard established the portal in January 2015 as a way for citizens to be better informed.

Think one-stop browsing.

You can find agendas for upcoming meetings of state boards and commissions, as well as minutes from past meetings. 

There are also documents, lists of the members for each panel, and the specific state laws that established them.

Last week the Daugaard administration rolled out an updated version.

There’s now more consistency.  Users could find it more intuitive and friendlier.

“Government must continually strive to be more open and accessible,” Daugaard said in announcing the re-launched portal. “As I prepare to leave office, I’m pleased that we are still making progress in this area.”

Transparency of state government in South Dakota has increased through use of the Internet.

Governor Dennis Daugaard had much to do with it. His administration has steadily improved the public’s online access to state government.

Those steps have included:

Expanded open.sd.gov in 2011, providing more data about state government contracts, and about how much each state worker makes.

Created rules.sd.gov in 2013, giving people a place they could find proposed state rules, as well as every state rule already on the books.

Established boardsandcommissions.sd.gov in 2015, letting people track state government’s boards and commissions.

That includes minutes and presentations from past meetings, the panel’s members listed by hometown, and agendas and documents for meetings ahead.

The Legislature also has beefed up its portal sdlegislature.gov and began running it on a separate system, making it independent from the executive branch.

The Legislature when it passes laws often delegates rule-making authority to state government departments and their boards and commissions.

A panel of six state lawmakers reviews all proposed rules after the hearings and decides which ones should take effect.

The legislators met six times in eight months to look at rules since the 2018 session ended.

South Dakota has more than 100 boards and commissions whose members are appointed by the governor.

“Government should be open and transparent,” Governor Daugaard said in 2015 when his administration unveiled the boards and commissions portal as the central hub. 

Since Daugaard took office in 2011, his administration has released invitation lists, offered public tours the governor’s mansion in Pierre and the governor’s residence known as Valhalla in Custer State Park, and made more information available online.

Daugaard said the success of the rules portal taught him and his administration there is a lot of value in putting information in one Internet location.

Keeping up with appointments of more than 1,000 citizens to state boards and commissions takes time.

Daugaard has sometimes told the story about how one day when he was having difficulty finding minutes from a state board meeting.

He was reminded of the administrative rules website. 

“While most of the boards and commissions post their information online, having to visit a number of different agency websites to find those things could be time consuming and inconvenient,” Daugaard said in a column he later wrote. 

“That is why we created a boards and commissions portal at boardsandcommissions.sd.gov to serve as a central hub for this information.” 

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs has significantly expanded information on her office’s general site sdsos.gov.

The main site for state government is sd.gov. From there you can type a few words into the search engine.

Or you can scroll down from the government heading and find every state department in the executive, legislative and judicial branches as well as links to websites for South Dakota’s three members of Congress.

Governor-elect Kristi Noem plans to continue the boards and commissions site when she takes office January 5, according to her press secretary.

“She does not have any immediate plans for further changes, but plans to evaluate all state websites to find ways to make them even more transparent and accessible,” Kristin Wileman said.