Tulsa County Web Site Gets A+ Grade
Tulsa County Web Site Gets A+ Grade
By TERRY A. SIMONSON
COUNTY COMMUNICATORS: Celebrating Tulsa County’s A+ grade for its Web Site are, from left, Commissioner John Smaligo, Treasurer Dennis Semler, County Clerk Earlene Wilson, Commissioner Fred Perry, Court Clerk Sally Howe Smith, Sheriff Stanley Glanz, Commissioner Karen Keith and Assessor Ken Yezel.
DANIEL C. CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
Everyday from every level of government there is talk about being an open, transparent and accessable government for the people. In days past the only way citizens could learn what their governments were doing, how money was being spent and decisions were being made was to spend time in the halls of government or attend a public meeting, something most citizens don’t have the time to do. But, with technology finding its place in every facet of government, it is incumbent upon government to provide this information quickly and timely. This is most commonly done through a government Web site.
In October of 2006 the Sam Adams Alliance, a nonprofit organization in Chicago, was founded with the explicit purpose of reviewing and grading Web sites for openness and transparency for all of the states, cities, counties, and school districts in America. This project is called the Sunshine Review Project. This can be found at www.sunshinereview.org
In September Tulsa County had received a C- grade. Of all Oklahoma Counties, 55 failed for not having any Web site at all. The C- was the highest grade of any county in the state. Under the leadership of County Commissioner John Smaligo it was decided that Tulsa County would settle for nothing less than an A grade. So the work began in earnest to put as much information for the public on the Tulsa County Web site, which is www.tulsacounty.org.
This information includes a stimulus Web site where stimulus money is being spent in Tulsa County, a copy of the award winning financial statement, zoning codes and procedures, copies of the contracts and agreements entered into by Tulsa County, a list of the professional associations which Tulsa County is a member of, contact information for all of the elected officials and public information officer, and a social media site with Twitter and Facebook.
After three weeks, Sunshine Review was asked to do a re-grade on the new and improved site. Kristin McMurray, senior editor for Sunshine Review and her staff reviewed the improvements and, with excitement, gave Tulsa County an A+. At the time, Ms. McMurray said: “We at Sunshine Review are thrilled that Tulsa County moved so quickly to earn a perfect score on our Transparency checklist. The Tulsa County Commissioners are providing essential information and engaging in being an open and honest government for the people and Tulsa County constituents will be better served because of it.
“Not only does Tulsa County have the highest grade of any government in Oklahoma, but with the A+ it is one of only five counties out of over 3,000 nationwide who have gone above and beyond even our requirements. We think it is fantastic how quickly Tulsa County jumped on the transparency band wagon.”
All of the Tulsa County elected officials are committed to preserving this highest of grades on being an open and accessible government to the citizens of Tulsa County. This starts by bringing this information directly to the citizens through the most transparent tool available: the award-winning Tulsa County Web site.
Terry A. Simonson is the Director of Development and Governmental Affairs for Tulsa County.