CLEARWATER - Pinellas County earned the Sunny Award for the second consecutive year and an A-plus transparency grade for the third year.
Sunny Award winners are chosen by Sunshine Review, which evaluates state and local government websites nationwide for transparency, citizen engagement and accountability. This year, 214 of the more than 6,000 government websites ranked by Sunshine Review earned a Sunny Award.
“The Sunny Awards recognize governments that are doing an exemplary job proactively disclosing information to taxpayers,” said Michael Barnhart, president of Sunshine Review. “There are so many organizations and associations that highlight what is wrong with government. We at Sunshine Review are proud to acknowledge those who are doing it right and setting a transparency standard that all governments can, and should, meet.”
The Sunshine Review gives the A-plus grade to government websites that meet the stringent transparency checklist measuring what content is available online against what content should be provided. The checklist includes 10 specific transparency criteria: budget, meetings, elected officials, administrative officials, permits and zoning, audits, contracts, lobbying, public records and local taxes.
Pinellas County government’s redesigned website, created through the successful partnership between Pinellas County Business Technology Services and the Pinellas County Communications department, was launched in May 2010. Under the leadership of County Administrator Bob LaSala, the county implemented a Web 2.0 initiative in 2011 to accelerate enhancements to the website.
This year’s initiatives included LiveChat on the website, the development of a mobile site and the addition of SeeClickFix, a mobile app that allows residents to take a picture of a local problem such as a pothole and send it to the county for action. Several eTownHall events were hosted online, with the live interactive meeting including a phone component. The eSeries was also launched to use informal interviews through live chats to educate the public about hurricane preparedness. The use of social marketing tools were expanded as well to connect to a wider audience.
In addition to the Sunny Awards, Pinellas County’s website received Best of the Web and Digital Government Achievement awards from eRupublic’s Center for Digital Government. The website is also recognized as Web 2.0 Enabled by the Public Technology Institute.