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Posted on: April 4, 2013

Pierce County team receives Open Government Award

A team of Pierce County employees who redesigned part of the county's website to make it much easier for citizens to access public records were honored Wednesday, April 3, by the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

It was the second time in three years that Pierce County has been recognized by the coalition for contributions to open government

WCOG President Toby Nixon presented the organization's Key Award to county communications director Hunter George, the project sponsor, Diane Ladenburg, public records ombudsman, and Al Rose, justice services director. A fourth team member, county webmaster Angela Gow, has since left the county for the private sector.

Nixon presented the awards, given to individuals or organizations that have made a notable contribution to the cause of open government, during County Executive Pat McCarthy's monthly cabinet meeting.

The website's new records page includes a list of records or information and where to find it online. The list also includes frequently requested documents from other local agencies such as the local health department. The page provides a link to instructions and forms for making records request for other records that are not available online.

The county website previously provided a public disclosure link, but it provided only a list of public records officers for each department. The new page offers links either to the records themselves or for the agencies or employees who can provide them.

"The Coalition is constantly on the lookout for best practices by state and local agencies that we can recognize and call attention to," said Nixon. "Once again Pierce County is leading the way, demonstrating how to make more public records easily available online or direct citizens to the source. We hope other agencies will follow their lead!"

The latest Key Award follows one given in 2010 to County Executive McCarthy for a new county policy requiring that all county email be stored in digital format for at least six years.

The Washington Coalition for Open Government is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that defends the public's right to know what state and local governments are doing. It backs legislation promoting government transparency and participates in significant court cases involving open government issues.

For more information, contact Washington Coalition for Open Government, 6351 Seaview Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664 or on the web at www.washingtoncog.org or call (206) 782-0393.

For information about Pierce County's public records site, contact Communications Director Hunter George at (253) 798-6606 or hgeorge@co.pierce.wa.us.

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