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Johnson County moves to update online offerings

December 30, 2013
Original Publication : December 26, 2013 by Adam B Sullivan
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Johnson County leaders say a new meeting management system will save money, paper and constituents’ time.

The county government has started using a new third-party vendor, New York-based IQM2, to organize and post meeting agendas, minutes and videos.

County supervisor Janelle Rettig said the initial rationale for revamping the meeting management system was to reduce paper use, an ongoing county government goal.

“There’s a desire to be more green and save resources. That’s been driving all of this: How do you use less paper and therefore save money?” she said.

Although the supervisors budgeted for the initial upfront costs of transitioning to the IQM2 system, they anticipate saving money by using less paper and expending fewer resources on preparing meeting packets and composing meeting minutes.

A major added benefit is ease of access for the public.

The county had been offering video archives from meetings since 2009, but the clips weren’t posted until a few days after the meetings. The new system will make live video footage from the meeting available online.

Rettig said Johnson County is either the only or one of very few counties in the state livestreaming meetings online.

“It gives the public more information,” Rettig said. “We’ve made gradual changes, but in the last couple years, we’ve made more aggressive ones.”

The county still is working out “a few little quirks,” Rettig said, but the plan is to expand livestreaming next year and migrate archived documents to the new system.

Even before the new IQM2 system, Johnson County government was earning positive marks for transparency and openness.

Ballotpedia, an independent online resource with information about local governments, gave the county an A- grade for transparency when the website rated the county’s website earlier this year. Analysts listed a slew of positives and just one negative — that some information about outside contracts wasn’t readily available. Johnson County’s Ballotpedia openness rating is easily the best among Johnson County and its six bordering neighbors.

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