Many local governments across the nation are using online portals to increase civic engagement and improve transparency, according to an Orange County statement.
Barry Jacobs, an Orange County Commissioner, said Orange County doesn’t have problems with transparency.
“I will say we’ve not had problems with openness regarding financial data — it’s just that we believe that sharing as much information as possible is the correct path for government,” Jacobs said.
Despite the lack of controversy regarding financial transparency, the board approved the portal because it seemed necessary to give residents easy access to financial information. He said the portal was approved as part of a staff initiative.
Penny Rich, an Orange County Commissioner, said it is her duty to be as transparent as possible with citizens.
“One of my goals as an elected official in Orange County is to make sure that factual, reliable information is available and easily accessible,” Rich said. “The portal will assist in this.”
Orange County Commissioner Renee Price said the portal was approved to allow residents to view the county’s financial information in an easier fashion.
“With this portal, residents, constituents, researchers or whomever can access information and data regarding Orange County government,” Price said. “Searches now should be easier and more timely.”
Price said the information will give residents an inside glimpse into the decisions of elected officials and government staff.
“As a citizen, you deserve to know about the revenue streams and expenditures made by elected officials and government staff,” Price said. “We want to bring ‘sunshine’ to the work that we do.”
Gabrielle Villamor, a UNC senior, said he would be interested in using the online portal.
“If it were part of a government website, I would use it,” Villamor said.
Residents can access other useful tools on the Orange County website, such as information about meeting agendas and local volunteering opportunities.