Oak Brook expects to soon make the grade on transparency
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:21AM
OAK BROOK — The D+ rating given earlier this year to Oak Brook on its transparency audit is likely to soon be changed to an A, officials said Friday.
The village’s transparency score of 68.10 was based on an assessment done by the Illinois Policy Institute in November 2011. The village unveiled a new website in February, which has had a significant impact on transparency, said Assistant Village Manager Blaine Wing. Because of that, Oak Brook officials requested a re-audit of its online material.
Wing said he spoke Aug. 16 with a representative of the Illinois Policy Institute, who was encouraged by changes on the village’s website.
“They said that right now we would have a score of 81, and by making our online PDFs searchable we’ll get an additional 10 points,” Wing said. “Right now, we scan in our PDF information, and someone would have to look through an entire document to find something specific. It should take us about a week to make the change so that someone can do a keyword search on a PDF.”
Wing said he expects Oak Brook to increase its score from 91 to 95 by adding more archived documents.
“We have quite a bit online now, but their suggestion was to go back five years instead of three, which is what we have on there now,” he said. “After that, probably in 2013, we’ll add the next year’s benefits and salaries on our website, too.”
Wing said the Illinois Policy Institute has a 10-point checklist that has been used to assess the transparency of municipalities and other governing bodies across the state:
Elected and administrative officials: contact information;
Meeting information: future calendar and previous minutes and board packets;
Public records: FOIA submission and FOIA officer contact information;
Budgets: general fund and special projects;
Financial audits: comprehensive annual financial reports;
Expenditures: checkbook register and credit card receipts;
Salary and benefits: wages, salary, overtime, health, dental, and life insurance, pension, etc.;
Contracts: union, private contractors, vendors;
Lobbying: taxpayer-funded lobbying associations;
Taxes and fees: sales, property, income, and miscellaneous taxes, fees on residents and businesses.
“We’ve gone above and beyond what they are looking for; we now have all 10 of those areas on their checklist and added seven additional headings,” he said.
Oak Brook added the following additional areas of information on its website under the heading of “open government:” contracts and agreements, economic development, electrical aggregation, ethics ordinance, 2010 census, press releases, and resident survey report.
“We have made extensive improvements on our website so that we will be more transparent,” Wing said. “Something else we plan to do soon is to add the packets for other commissions and boards; right now we have the agendas and meeting posted,” he said. ~.