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Friday October 31st
Transparency, Open Government, and Citizen Participation
City of Oregon City

Oregon City: A Leader in Open Government and Transparency

In 2008, the City Commission’s Goal #5 called for an increase in communications with citizens and further facilitation of citizen participation.  The goal resulted in an increase in opportunities for citizens to be involved in local government, access documents and information easily and efficiently, and produced greater transparency between the City and its citizens. Today, transparency remains a priority for the City Commission. 
 

 

 

 

In response to the Commission’s mandate to increase communications and citizen participation, the City Recorder’s Office developed the 2007-2011 Strategic Plan for Records Management with a mission to accomplish five specific goals through various objectives. Other departments increased their public outreach on public projects, citizen participation, and access to departmental documents. Good governance demands that City staff provide a response to citizen requests according to state law and City policy. Effective recordkeeping and communication safeguards the citizens’ trust in documenting the City business that takes place.

Implementing the Strategic Plan resulted in the use of best practices to sustain our records in the decades to come. Technology connects people, and proactive use of technology to inform the public about government activity has greatly increased; this results in increased accountability of City decision-makers to the public by providing open access to information using various means.  Listed below are many ways the City increased its transparency since 2008. These objectives continue to provide transparency, security and accessibility to records between the local government and its citizenry. Citizen involvement assures accountability and credibility for internal practices.

External objectives that directly impact citizens:

• Easy access to all City Commission meeting agendas, minutes, and videos on the City’s Website.

Videos, minutes, and agendas of all public meetings of the City's boards and committees are available on the Website.

• “Records Online” implemented – an online search tool for thousands of City records, dating back to the mid-1800s.

• The City Commission revitalized the Citizen Involvement Council in 2009, providing an additional opportunity for neighborhoods to connect with City functions in a practical way.

• Enhanced Website tools, including OC Request (mobile reporting tool); launch of social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs); RSS tools; online surveys and citizen comment opportunities for City projects.

Mapping. Oregon City is a trend-setter with regard to public access to mapping and GIS data.

• The Public Works Department is committed to public outreach for primary projects such as the Jughandle; McLoughlin Blvd. Enhancement Project; Linn Avenue Corridor; water rate charter amendment and many others, including online and telephone surveys; neighborhood association presentations; dedicated Web pages; direct mailings/brochures; press releases; regular project updates at City Commission meetings, Transportation Advisory Committee, and other boards and committees; and citizen workgroup studies. PW Operations maintains a tremendous amount of data on major utility facilities, all available to the public upon request. Annual reports of the many operations performed by Public Works are also available upon request: Stormwater; PMUF; Community Rating System Annual Recertification; and others.

• The Community Development Department provides public outreach for development projects such as the Willamette Falls Legacy Project and several concept plans, including citizen steering committees; open houses; press releases; presentations to neighborhood associations; community conversations; site tours; press releases; citizen involvement on the Planning Commission, Historic Review Board, and Natural Resources Committee; use of social media for communication; and Website development for special projects. Land use applications in process are posted online for citizen comment, and the City complies with state laws related to proper notice to the public including mailings and other public communications.

• The Community Services Department supports the City Commission's goals through its citizen communications. These efforts include supporting the efforts of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee that provides a forum for citizens to address the City about parks and recreation related issues; publication and distribution of the Trail News four times each year - the publication contains city and community news, information, events, facility and program schedules and more, is posted on the City's Website, directly mailed to every mailing address in Oregon City, and provided free at a wide variety of facilities; maintains the City's Website on departmental activities and provides regular updates neighborhood associations and to the City Commission at regular meetings; publishes flyers, posters, newsletters and other items regarding programs, special events, facility information (Pioneer Center & Oregon City Swimming Pool), etc.; projects such as new parks and master plans for new or existing facilities include extensive public input and outreach processes.

• The Library Department, currently involved in a proposed expansion project, provides regular progress reports to the City Commission at meetings and on a dedicated Web page on the City's Website; works closely with the Library Board consisting of several mayor-appointed citizens on Library issues; holds open houses on site design/expansion progress; attends neighborhood association meetings to update citizens of Library issues; sought public opinion using online surveys; sends monthly newsletter to 750 interested persons; and utilizes social media to keep the public informed of library programs and issues.

• The Human Resources Department includes many documents for public viewing on the City's Website, such as Job postings; position descriptions; collective bargaining agreements; salary schedules; employee information; and personnel policies.  Other documents that are not exempt from disclosure are available upon request.

• The Finance Department provides the public with online versions of the biennial budget, audited financial statements, and other popular reports. In development of the City's budget documents, Finance adheres to the state's budget law regulations which enhance citizen participation. A budget committee, consisting of the City's elected commission members and five additional citizens, reviews and approves budgets before adoption. Members of the public are invited to apply for a position on the Budget Committee. The City is audited annually by an independent public accounting firm to provide additional assurance that funds are properly accounted for. Audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports can be accessed on the City's financial documents page.

• The Oregon City Police Department believes that communication to and from our community is extremely important.  The department dedicates staff specifically to that function and assigns officers to each City neighborhood association.  The role of these liaisons is to attend meetings and answer questions, give useful information about crime trends, and share local police news.  Equally important is the liaisons’ ability to bring ideas from the neighborhoods back to the rest of the department.  The Chief takes part in the Chief’s Advisory Committee meetings and holds several Meet Your Police meetings every year.  The department utilizes social media, including 2,084 Facebook followers and 1,372 Twitter followers.  A newsletter called The Grapevine is published by the department, and will soon publish its annual report.

• The City Recorder’s Office implemented central records storage for more efficient access to City records (Records Center at City Hall); paper documents were digitized and uploaded to the electronic access system; Resolution No. 09-31 was adopted, authorizing the use of the State’s General Records Retention Schedule for cities in Oregon.

• Citizen appointments to City boards and committees is nearly 100% complete for 2014.

Internal objectives that indirectly impact citizens:

• City policies and procedures were implemented to ensure an efficient delivery of record

• Staff trained in records management and use of social media tools

• Record liaisons assigned specific records responsibilities from each department

• Acquired off-site, climate-controlled storage to meet preservation and security requirements

• State-authorized records destruction practices implemented

• Process hundreds of public records requests each year in a timely manner according to state laws and City policies

• Preliminary plans underway for robust management of City electronic records and further access to the public

• New strategic plan for 2014-2018 is in development stages

To access the documents that drive good governance in Oregon City, please click on the links below.  For further information on the content of this page, contact the City Recorder, Nancy Ide, at 503-496-1505 or nide@orcity.org.

2008-2009 City Commission Goals – see Goal 5
2013-2015 City Commission Goals – see Goal 4
Presentation on Open Government, Transparency, and Citizen Participation
Records Request Policy
5-Year Strategic Plan for Records Management
Resolution No. 09-31 – adopting State’s General Retention Schedule for Cities
Link for State Retention Schedule
Link for Oregon State Statutes on Public Records