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Providence Launches ‘Open Meetings Portal'
Web portal fulfills recommendation of Open Providence Commission; provides meeting notices for City Council, boards and commissions; enables residents to search agenda items, view attendance records and voting histories
PROVIDENCE, RI – The City of Providence today launched its Open Meetings Portal – a single, public access point for public meeting information.
The site, http://openmeetings.providenceri.com, fulfills a recommendation of a special commission established to find ways the City can use technology to engage residents, and is the result of several months of collaboration between the City Clerk, City Council, and the administration of Mayor Angel Taveras.
"This is a major step forward for transparency in Providence," said Council President Michael A. Solomon. "Last year we brought together the City's best and brightest in information technology and civic engagement to tell City officials how to increase public access to City Hall. We have acted swiftly on their recommendations, because there is no greater measure of a modern municipality than the amount of information it provides to its residents. Transparency fosters engagement, drives performance, and increases accountability."
This Thursday's meeting of the Providence City Council will be the first to use the new portal. The site enables residents to register and receive meeting notices for the City Council, as well as any public body in the City. The public will also be able to view the voting histories of City Councilors and the members of other City boards and commissions, see members' attendance records, and perform searches for individual agenda items.
"Government works best when it is open, transparent and easily accessible to residents. Providence's Open Meetings Portal is an important step forward in our work to implement the recommendations of the Open Providence Commission and reflects our strong commitment to transparency and accountability," Mayor Taveras said.
In 2011, Mayor Taveras, Council President Solomon and Majority Leader Seth Yurdin introduced a resolution to establish the Open Providence Commission on Transparency and Accountability, a 15-member commission tasked with studying and recommending ways the City can use technology to make government more accessible and transparent.
Last December the commission issued a report with a recommendation to provide the public with a central online location for meeting information.
"The City Clerk's office is proud to publish the very first agenda on the Open Meetings portal this week," said City Clerk Anna M. Stetson. "The staff of the City Clerk has dedicated many hours towards training this year to ensure a successful launch of this software. The launch of this portal will allow the public to appreciate and easily access a much larger percentage of the work that takes place inside City Hall. We hope to serve as a shining example of thoughtful, effective adoption of technology by government in order to serve the public."
The initial launch will include the meeting agendas for the City Council; more information will be available to residents in the coming weeks. Public bodies including the Board of Licenses and the Zoning Board of Review will also adopt the new platform. The Open Meetings Portal also supports audio and video files from live meetings, meeting minutes, and background information on board members.
The Open Meetings Portal supplements information meetings notices made available through the Secretary of State's website.