Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he will hire a full-time employee devoted to government transparency.
The job of open-government ombudsman is vacant after the departure of Tim Ford, who did the job part-time. Ferguson had said he planned to hire a replacement. On Monday he told the so-called Sunshine Committee on open-records he would make it a full-time job.
"In my view it's one of the most important functions we have in our office," Ferguson, a Democrat, said in an interview. "It's been a goal of mine from Day 1."
The job involves giving advice to agencies, local governments and the public on open-meetings law and public-records law. It was full-time when former Attorney General Rob McKenna created it, but McKenna cut it back to part-time in July 2011 after budget cuts.
Ferguson said he found the money to reinstate it, partly by eliminating vacant positions in his office. He said he is also giving some raises to attorneys whose wages have been frozen for years.
State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, a member of the Sunshine Committee, said it would have been difficult politically for Ferguson to avoid reinstating the full-time post. "But I was sure he would, and I'm glad that he did," Roach said. "That was the right thing to do."