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Our Opinion: Transparency accompanies city’s transition to electronics

News Tribune editorial

Transparency, accessibility and simplicity are worthy goals of government.

As government’s grow, they tend to become more bureaucratic and, as a result, more inaccessible and removed from the constituents they serve.

The trend toward opacity, however, can be reversed by creating an easily accessible, electronic database.

The Jefferson City Council, like other governing bodies, is moving toward comprehensive electronic record keeping.

An electronic database will ease access to data for elected officials, city employees and city residents.

We applaud city leaders not only for considering, but prioritizing, public access to city records, information and applications.

“One of the reasons the council even wanted to start down this path was to improve transparency,” said Bill Betts, city director of information technologies.

An upcoming initiative will be to post applications and receive submissions online for business licenses. A similar procedure for building permits also is planned.

The transition to electronic record-keeping requires both time and money.

The initial phase, which began last year, has cost $61,000.

The price tag was below the estimated $85,000 for the initial phase and, according to Betts, “may get us farther than we thought ... in terms of licensing.”

A second phase is envisioned, Betts added, “at some point.”

The electronic records will improve efficiency in city government. Council members will be able to acquire necessary statistics and background information more conveniently, and staff will be empowered to perform their duties more quickly.

The greatest benefit, however, will accrue for city residents, who will be able to conduct business, access information and monitor the workings of municipal government.

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