Transparency and Your Town Website
January/February 2015 Issue of Towns and Topics by the NYS Association of Towns
In October of 2014 the Empire State Center for Public Policy released a report titled œSee through NY-Local Government Website Report Card 2014. 500 sites across the state were rated for transparency, and based on the methodology used, fully 85 percent of the sites received an F. Municipal Sites were rated in 10 areas and the areas of greatest weakness were: Contact Information, Public Information, Financial Reports, Contracts and Ease of Navigation.
Contact Information: In addition to names, email addresses and phone numbers, it is suggested that the each member of local governments photograph and bio be included in the contact listing.
Public Information: This category refers specifically to the ease of access of FOIL information and should include the Records Management Officer’s and Appeals Officer name and contact information. There should also be a sample of a FOIL request via email and a form that can be printed and mailed. The link to the NYS site for FOIL is to be included should the filer like additional information.
Financial Reports: A full 5 years of audited financial reports (Including: Budgets and CAFRS/Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) and should be on the site. These results must be easily located on the menu.
Contracts: To include Union Contracts, other Employee Contracts, Vendor Contracts for amounts more than $10000.00 and RFPs for amounts more than $10000.00
Ease of Navigation: Can include drop down menus, Search Menus, Aggregated Forms/Documents page and a FAQ page.
Future: Following are areas of transparency the Public will be looking for:
– Vendor Payments (how much, to whom and for what products/services
– Town Revenues (amounts and sources)
– Payroll (who is getting paid what, overtime, etc.)
– Official Public Meeting Streaming (live webcast and/or video on demand archive)
– Mobile Access
(Published in the January February Issue of Towns and Topics by the NYS Association of Towns)