Wednesday, December 5, 2012

County pledges to improve website

Criticism sparks effort to update

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County will strive for a more transparent and accessible website this month following a report from a nonprofit organization that gave the county a grade of D- in November.

Blaine County Administrator Derek Voss said during a public meeting Tuesday that the county has until Dec. 20 to submit information for re-analysis to the Sunshine Review, a national non-profit organization dedicated to voter transparency.

“This website is helpful and they are well-intentioned,” he said, adding that he has planned a series of improvements and also assigned who would have primary responsibility. “We can certainly improve.”

Voss said most of the burden would fall on the Clerk’s Office, which will scan a number of records and make them available online. The Sunshine Review will re-evaluate the county’s website after Dec. 20 and release a possibly amended score in mid-January.

“I do not believe that in 17 days we are going to see an A+ [score],” Voss said. “But I think we can look at this as a framework for what is important.”

Commissioner Angenie McCleary said she felt the grade did not accurately reflect the intentions of the county regarding transparency.

McCleary pointed out that the Sunshine Review is not local, as it is based out of Washington, D.C., and what it considers important might not be as important to Blaine County residents.

“Perhaps there are things the Sunshine Review thinks are not important but that our public wants,” she said, such as the skilled nursing discussion documents that are on the website.

“We’re here to serve the public, and it’s important that the public feels we are meeting their needs.”

Voss said the process of updating the website would continue after the Dec. 20 deadline, in an effort to keep the public informed.

Kate Wutz:

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