Sunday, October 17, 2010

Citizen Group Initiated Discussion on Policy for Oconee County Web Site

CACOCWS Launched

The self-appointed Citizen Advisory Committee on the Oconee County Web Site (CACOCWS) decided tonight to break into four subcommittees to gather information before meeting again to discuss web site policy options and content.

Dan Matthews will examine what the county Parks and Recreation Department has done to develop its site, linked to the county main site but quite different stylistically from it.

Matthews also will examine how the Planning Department is using the existing county site to provide information to the public about planning issues before those issues come before the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners.

Tony Glenn will gather information on what the four incorporated areas of the county are doing with their web sites as well as how the Sheriff’s Office and the Board of Education use their sites.

Sarah Bell and I will attempt to gather information on the history of the county web site, the amount of money that is being invested in it, how it is managed, and what other kinds of resources the county has to support information technology.

Dan McDaniel will explore governmental web sites, with particular emphasis on those in Georgia, in an effort to find those that might serve as models for Oconee County. He also will help the committee develop ways to communicate internally and externally as it goes about its business.

The five of us met tonight for an hour at Jittery Joe’s in Watkinsville to outline issues we would like to explore and to develop ways to go about exploring them. We started our discussion at 7 p.m.

Two committee members, Oconee County Commissioner Margaret Hale and Kate McDaniel, could not attend because of last-minute changes in their schedules.

The committee is an outgrowth of an announcement I made at the Board of Commissioners meeting on May 4 that I was organizing a citizen committee to make policy recommendations for the county’s web site.

I asked the commissioners to join me, and Hale agreed. I also asked the chairpersons of the Democratic and Republican parties in the county to make nominations, and they did. I sought volunteers in a posting I made on this blog on Aug. 29. Finally, I asked the committee members to nominate a seventh member.

At the meeting tonight, we identified the following list of issues:

1. How might the county web site be used to make public announcements on issues of importance to citizens? What would the county need to do to maintain an archive of such announcements?

2. What is needed to make the site fully and easily searchable?

3. What types of public records might be made available through the web site?

4. What types of court records might be accessible?

5. What types of election and campaign records might be stored for electronic access?

6. Should there be a unified template for all county web sites, or should some of the departments develop sites that have their own style, characteristics and features?

7. What types of recreational information would be most helpful, how might it be organized, and how might the site link to other records on sports and recreational organizations in the county?

8. What kinds of opportunities might citizens be given to respond to or even contribute to the web site?

9. What policy should be created regarding government responsibility in providing information?

10. What kinds of links should be featured on the county cite? Should the site create an easy interface with sites of the four incorporated areas, the Board of Education, or the other elected officials in the county?

11. What can be done to provide for online applications for such things as building permits?

12. What needs to be done to provide the proper levels of security for the county site?

In launching the discussion, I said the committee needed to recognize that the county has very limited resources at present and that some recommendations might not be able to to be realized until county revenues recover.

The committee decided to create the subcommittees as a means of gathering information to further discussion of the issues on the list. The next meeting will be scheduled once the subcommittees have done their initial work.

The committee decided to encourage public participation in the discussion of these issues by creating a web site.

Information on access to that site will be provided here as soon as it is available.