Should the County Information be on the Internet?

How Technology can be used in the County Communication Strategy


The California Public Records Act (CPRA) applies to our work.

The regulatory environment (laws, regulations, policies) is slow changing and relatively fixed. However, when changes occur they must be updated. Similarly, policies of the county, department and division don’t change much but have to be maintained and accessible. Someone has to maintain these elements and the ICS should inform where they are maintained.


The public Internet is the location to maintain these records.


  1. People who are problematic, gadflies and discontented people, will use this material to bolster their arguments.
  2. The higher level ISD staff will have to maintain this because of the security issues involved.


  1. It meets the spirit and the letter of CPRC.
  2. When public records requests come in it is convenient to respond.
  3. The value of transparency is achieved
  4. Good will is garnered because there is a convenient response to the public requests.
    For example we could have this text on the web site, “Our County is committed to providing public information when needed and in a convenient manner. If you have an inquiry please search our web site first to see if what you seek is already posted here. If you can’t find it please call (707)565-0000 . If you know which division is involved the numbers for each are here [List of division public inquiry #s] We look forward to responding to you with the information you need because we are here to serve the public.”
  5. All staff will have access to the information they need all the time. Staff members are dedicated and sometimes they think about things when they aren’t at work. If they want information from home they can get it.
  6. The fact of having information presented with one portal, in an updated fashion, will enhance access for the public, stakeholders, and staff.
  7. Stakeholders will get ongoing flexible access to the department’s resources because we can have a section for them.
  8. There can be a place for Requests for Proposals, requests for bids, etc.
  9. Funded projects can be provided with forms and instructions from a dedicated location.
  10. We can have a password protected section that shares detail which is not generally publicly accessible but convenient for stakeholders. (e.g. phone lists, contact people, special instructions or announcements) We can make this a function of contract agencies’ agreements and partners with whom we share MOUs. For example – we wouldn’t fax phone lists around to selected entities , they would have access to updated information continuously.
  11. We can have a password protected staff access for all staff which has standards of use. For example, e-mail access point, HR related schedules and instructions, etc.
    Question re: What access do managers have now off site? What is the rationale for each element of that? Can we give everyone access unless there is a compelling reason NOT to?

Some other issues for consideration

  1. Explore the down side of Internet transparency.
  2. How can internal working committees, units, supervisors, and managers use the intranet effectively for ongoing meetings and announcements? (e.g. posting agendas, minutes, assignments/tasks, background materials, etc.)

There should be a new metaphor for how we work together. In many elements of ongoing bureaucratic endeavor we talk about silos and working within our silos. In fact, if we all serve the public, and we have a commitment to partnerships then we should be thinking of Venn diagrams and the fluid-like flow of information and responsibility. We would be helped by this and we would make our processes more understandable to the public we serve if we have developed a model, or rather a configuration of models, which shows what we do, how we do it, and who is accountable.

Where’s the guidance?

  1. Is it possible to have clear guidance on the interpersonal and informal use of the technology resource that expands on the existing “computer use policy”?
  2. Is it desirable to be very specific? Is the guidance/practice section the place to do it?

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