MARYLAND

Montgomery County rolls out online platform

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Montgomery County is diving into the digital age by rolling out new web portals designed to give residents better access to information such as budgets, contracts and salaries.

The project, called OpenMontgomery, aggregates existing sites such as mc311 and countystat on a single webpage.

The county has also launched links to new data sets that include budgets, contracts and salaries for all government employees.

An online townhall will give residents as place to voice ideas about everything from budgets to the contents of library book shelves.

It’s the first of its kind in the metro D.C-area. Other major cities such as Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia run similar digital programs.

“We realize that having that information and sharing that information is a necessity,” says County Executive Ike Leggett.

Leggett hopes for more input and income by appearing tech-savvy,

Leggett believes the county can become a leader in business technology. It’s an idea that resonates with computer programmer Michael Cariaso, who works and lives within a one-block radius in Rockville.

“The online engagement to me is very important. I'm a computer programmer. I've done that kind of work my entire life,” Cariaso says.

But it was costly. Despite a $135 million gap in the 2014 budget, the county has already spent more than $1 million tax payer dollars on the project.

Leggett projects the cost to grow as the program evolves. But, he says, it’s worth it.

“When you recognize that this information is useful, it’s relevant to what people are doing, the technology continues to grow and expand, I think this is something we need to do,” Leggett says.

Eric Hjertberg, a Rockville resident, says government transparency is critical, whatever the price.

“I think it's establishes a precedent,” he says. “I think it's worth the money.”

openMontgomery website
dataMontgomery: Direct access to data sets such as employee salaries, cable inspections and complaints, and building permits.
accessMontgomery: Links to existing sites such as MC311 and CountyStat
engageMontgomery:  A social media platform designed to give residents a place to voice concerns or ideas.
mobileMontgomery: A list of existing Montgomery County mobile apps such as MC311 and Transportation’s Storm Operations.

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