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Sunshine Review, a non-profit government watchdog agency, recently recognized Polk County Public Schools (PCPS) for having one of the most transparent websites in the United States.
The annual “Sunny Awards" recognize the best state and local government websites in America that exceed transparency standards. According to http://sunshinereview.org, “Openness, accountability, and honesty define government transparency. In a free society, transparency is the government's obligation to share information with citizens. It is at the heart of how citizens hold their public officials accountable.”
Sunshine Review analyzed the governmental transparency websites of all fifty states and 6,000 local governments. This year, Florida received more Sunny Awards than any other state, earning 20 honors. Thirteen of those were Florida School Districts. Grading takes into account the proactive disclosure of information regarding budgets, meetings, elected and administrative officials, permits and zoning, audits, contracts, lobbying, public records, and taxes, as well as the ease of use and availability of information.
“We have an incredible team of webmasters throughout the schools and district office,” said Abdu Taguri, the PCPS Assistant Superintendent of Information Systems and Technology Division. “I really feel great about the award because it shows our team is doing the right things to meet the needs of the citizens of Polk County.”
“Sunny Award winners deserve recognition for making information available to citizens and for setting a transparency standard that all governments can, and should, meet,” said Mike Barnhart, President of Sunshine Review. “Access to information empowers every citizen to hold government officials accountable. Official accountability is the cornerstone of self government and liberty,” Barnhart added.
The E-Mail and Web Services Department for the Information Systems and Technology Division is responsible for the Polk County Public Schools Website design, maintenance, development and support. However, there are a large number of District Webmasters that are directly responsible for much of the important content on the site.