(photo credit: alexrk2/flickr)
Out with the old and in with the new. That’s the motto the city of Oceanside has adopted as city leaders are using technology to bring its residents closer to their government.
Case in point—a partnership with NetFile will allow residents to get campaign records of candidates running for office quickly and easily right at their fingertips.
“Number one, it’s a smart thing to do. I’ve always believed in open government. This just makes it a little easier for those who want to find out, from government, clear information that’s available right away. It’s the right time and the right thing to do,” said Jim Wood, Oceanside’s Mayor.
In July 2012, the California Legislature approved AB 2452, authorizing local jurisdictions to require the filing of campaign statements and reports in electronic formats.
According to the City Clerk, NetFile is the only one available that meets the requirements of AB 2452 and it’s the only vendor approved for paperless filing of statements by the Secretary of State.
The city of San Diego started using the company a year ago. Oceanside took some time to review who it worked in local governments.
“When we saw the positive feedback and the benefits it could provide to the taxpayers of Oceanside, we thought it would be a good time to implement it here before the 2014 General Election,” said Zack Beck, city clerk.
NetFile will provide a portal on the City’s website. Data, dating back to the 2012 elections will include various documents and other information tied to disclosure and campaign contributions.
“This enables the citizens to have greater transparency and the ability to make well informed decisions when they go to the polls,” said Beck.
Currently, anyone who wants campaign records has to go down to city hall and get the information in person.
“I wanted this to be a primary change for our department, to make it a little more transparent and to provide a greater access to the entire city. For the overwhelming majority of residents, who have very busy schedules, it’s much easier for them to go on to our website and to review the information instead of making a special trip to city hall,” said Beck.
City leaders say this system and what it offers has little, if any, drawbacks for Oceanside resients.
“Whatever technology we can use to improve the efficiency of our department as well as saving some tax dollars, I think it’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
The City made a five year deal with the company at $18,000 a year.
The site is expected to be up and running before the June primary elections.
“Over the years, I’ve seen a wonderful transition to a transparent open government by computers. The government has a lot better response time in dealing with the public that we represent by this, number one. Number two, more people are more in tuned to getting their information right away,” said Mayor Wood.
The city of Oceanside is adding just another element to their open government.