MontCo data, from salaries to permits, hit new website

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Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Montgomery County officials on Wednesday rolled out a new effort to share government information with its residents, through its openMontgomery website, which will display information ranging from employee salaries to budgets and internal audits.

The site also will allow residents to make service requests and file complaints to certain county departments, and data will be updated regularly.

The website -- montgomerycountymd.gov/open -- launched Wednesday and includes four portals where residents can access information, such as county contracts, budgets and salaries, submit service requests, engage community leaders, and access other services.

It allows residents to see different sets of data and manipulate them to see something as big as the entire budget or something as small as one line item in a department's budget. It also transforms data into charts and graphs.

The effort cost about $1 million and took five months of work, said Sonny Segal, chief information officer for the county's Department of Technology Services. Up to $700,000 more could go to the program.

The website includes only the county government, not other organizations such as Montgomery County Public Schools, though the site has been set up to add them. For example, residents currently can search county employee salaries by name, but cannot look up their children's teachers.

Segal said the project is meant to show residents that Montgomery County government is transparent.

"We want to send the message to all of our communities that we are open to engage them," he said, adding that the program will evolve in the following months as the department gets information about what residents are looking for and how they interact with the site.

The site also will include a digital road map charting what initiatives the new site hopes to achieve and when it hopes to achieve them.

Alan Shark, executive director of the Public Technology Institute, a resource for technology services in local governments, said this is one of the first sites of its kind for a county government.

"This is on par with every major city in the country," he said. "[County officials] have done things that are as good as Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City."

The launch of the website follows a bill passed by the County Council on Tuesday that requires county agencies to make a public data set available on the Internet.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Kate Jacobson

Montgomery County reporter
The Washington Examiner