The city of Oakland, California and its local Code for America fellows have launched a new open government tool – RecordTrac. The tool is designed to help local officials track public records requests. Users who make a request will also be able to track the status of those queries. The tool also provides a searchable public archive of the requests and the responses received from City staff so users can locate information that has already been retrieved. This saves users time and saves City staff from having to process a duplicate request.
The Public Records Request system was built by the City of Oakland’s 2013 Code for America Fellows Sheila Dugan, Cris Cristina and Richa Agarwal. The Fellows have been working with the City of Oakland since February to develop an application that will bolster the City’s goals of increased transparency, more efficient processes and better access to public information.
As part of the development process, a working group was established with city staff from the City Administrator’s Office, Public Ethics Commission, City Attorney’s Office and City Clerk’s Office. Besides looking at technology, the working group also reviewed the law, processes and policies around fulfilling Public Record Requests. In addition, the Public Ethics Commission is working with the community to outline a vision for transparency and Open Government in Oakland, furthering our shared goals of ensuring fairness, openness, honesty and integrity in city government.
Code for America fellows have posted the code for the public records quest system online at GitHub so other developers or other cities can implement their own tool. Other Code for America projects are also available on GitHub for cities and developers to use.
“Code for America has inspired a shift in the way that the City is building online services for the community,” said City Administrator Deanna J. Santana.