Mayor Richard M. Daley said today new information has been added to the City’s website that represents another step toward his goal of better managing government by making Chicago government more accountable, open and transparent.
“That’s the kind of government the residents of Chicago want, and it’s the kind of government that I want,” the Mayor said in a news conference held at City Hall.
Two months ago, the City unveiled its new, updated website which provides residents with more information and services online than ever before and in a way that is easier to understand, faster to access and more reliable.
“What we are trying to do with this website is make information regarding government more accessible for Chicagoans,” Daley said.
“Whether a resident is at home or at a public library terminal or anywhere else in the world for that matter, we want it to be fast and easy for them to get information or complete transactions with the city,” he said.
The new online sources of information and data announced to day are:
• Statements of Financial Interest
The City has now posted all 2009 Statements of Financial Interests submitted by more than 11,000 City employees. This makes Chicago one of the first cities in the nation to post all ethics statements filed with it online. In the past, these forms were available only by photocopy or email. Neither the State of Illinois nor the federal government makes all filed "ethics disclosures" available online.
• Freedom of Information Act Requests
City departments have always posted online a list of documents and information they regularly maintain, as well as information about how to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain those records.
A new state law requires every department to maintain a log of all FOIA requests, including the name of the requestor, a description of the request and the submission and due dates.
The law does not require the log to be posted online, but Daley said the City is going above and beyond what's required and taking that extra step to post the logs online -- effective now -- in the interest of transparency and the free flow of information. Chicago is the only government organization in the nation that posts logs for every city department and updates them daily. In the federal government, for example, only two agencies (U.S. Trade Representative and Office of Secretary of Defense) post FOIA logs online and the most recent information available is from 2008.
• Boards and Commissions Database.
There are more than 150 boards and commissions to which the mayor appoints members, and the website now includes information about the functions and rules of those boards and commissions and their members.
• Service Request Lookup
There is a lookup function for residents wanting to know the status of their requests for city services. Whether a resident submits the request on-line or through 311, they will receive a service request number and can view information about the status of their issue on the website. The expanded information requests now include: abandoned vehicle complaints, building violations, garbage cart maintenance (black carts), graffiti removal, rodent baiting, sanitation code violations, street lights out, tree trimming requests and tree debris removal.
• Expanded Payment Information
Since 2004, the City has made available its contracts and contract payments information on-line. Now the City is posting a monthly report of all other payments that are not connected to a specific Department of Procurement Services contract, including payments for utilities, real estate leases, subscriptions, legal expenses and settlements, debt service, employee reimbursements, postage, and other similar types of payments.
• Economic Disclosure Statements
Beginning in late 2009, the City began piloting an on-line submission form for Economic Disclosure Statements (EDS) – company ownership information required for approval of City contracts. Vendors are beginning to submit the EDS electronically for approval, and that data will now be posted online in an easy-to-use searchable format. Previously to find a vendor’s EDS on the web, a user needed to know the contract information in order to access the copy of the hand-written EDS that was on-line. EDS data will be searchable for newly-awarded contracts and users will have the ability to search by vendor name, company officer and director names, shareholder names and retained party information, among other identifiers.
The City plans to expand use of the electronic and online EDS throughout 2010, and expects to have all EDS’s submitted online by the end of the year.
Daley said the steps announced today build on other initiatives the City has recently announced that make government more transparent, including:
• Posting TIF district information, including three-year estimates of revenue and expenditures on individual projects in each of the 160 TIF districts in the City;
• Posting detailed contracts and payment information for delegate agencies that provide social services to city residents.
“During these tough times, when people demand greater access to information from governments and businesses, I believe they want us to stand up for them and give them the information they need to make decisions,” Daley said.
“I know we are well on the way to achieving that goal with this new website,” he said.
The website is at: http://www.cityofchicago.org
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