By Ralph Schwartz
In a recent post about a grading system for government websites, I gave the city of Bellingham some unjustified criticism.
I said the city loses a point on the website grading system for not posting its contracts with private entities.
Turns out, I just never came across it. It’s unfortunate when the fact checking happens after the fact.
Links to pdf’s of all contracts, past and present, can be found on a useful city page labeled “Research Databases.”
Once you click on “Contracts,” you can find the one you’re looking for using the search box. For example, if you wanted to see all the contracts Bellingham made with American Traffic Solutions, you would simply type that name into the search box.
Thanks to Janice Keller in the mayor’s office for pointing out my oversight. She did not refute my other demerit against the city website, which was that staff members’ direct-line phone numbers were not listed.
I scanned the Whatcom county home page for a minute but found no way to access the county’s contracts. They may be in there somewhere; I just wouldn’t know how to find them. So for now, my statement about this shortcoming on the county’s website still stands.
I said once in a comment on this blog and again over the phone to Janice Keller that I will score a few of our government websites based on the grading system established by Sunshine Review. And I will, as soon as some time frees up.
Then again, there is that thing called crowdsourcing. You readers can grade government websites based on the organization’s criteria too, if you want. Those criteria are available in the report, linked here. (Appendix C, pp. 20-23) I was/am going to grade Bellingham, Whatcom, Ferndale and the Bellingham School District, but don’t feel limited. Look into whichever site or sites interest you.
If you do this, let us know what you find out, in the comment area below.