BLOOMFIELD, NJ -- The Township of Bloomfield has received commendation by the New Jersey League of Municipalities and New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and was awarded honorable mention in the 2017 Annual Innovation in Governance Awards for its efforts to promote transparency in municipal affairs. Bloomfield Township Open Records Portal was created last year, and contains PDFs of all Township Council Resolutions, Appointments, and Contract Awards dating back to 2010 in detail, with voting records as well as all approved Township budgets.
“Bloomfield Municipal Clerk Louise Palagano and I have discussed for a long time how we can build the most accessible online database for residents to view open public records, and I am proud of the great portal that Clerk Palagano’s office and our IT Director Jean-Guy Lauture were able to effectively create and maintain,” said Mayor Michael Venezia. “This portal is, and will continue to be, a resource for residents as well as municipal employees. We have already received positive feedback on the portal from residents as well as employees, and we will continue working to promote transparency and accessibility.”
The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) is the New Jersey state statute ensuring the public has access to government maintained records, while maintaining privacy for citizens. The Municipal Clerk’s office receives hundreds of OPRA requests annually, and previously stored all records on an internal computer database not accessible to the public, but responded as quickly as possible to all requests for information. The online portal has already reduced the number of OPRA requests submitted for Resolutions and Ordinances by 15%, per documents from the Municipal Clerk’s office.
“The job of the Clerk’s office is to make sure public information is available and accessible to residents, to ensure accountability and transparency. The Annual Innovation of Governance Awards has several consideration categories including: the project’s ability to meet the needs of the municipality; how the relevant municipal departments have responded to this initiative; how the project saves municipal resources; and whether the project is temporary or permanent. The Bloomfield Township Open Records Portal meets the needs of municipal employees as well as residents, is innovative, saves municipal resources, and is sustainable and permanent,” said Bloomfield Township Clerk Louise Palagano. “I am proud that this portal brings Bloomfield into the top tier of municipalities in terms of transparency, and honored to be recognized by the New Jersey League of Municipalities and Department of Community Affairs.”
The Annual Innovation in Governance Awards date back to 2015, and were preceded by the Municipality Project Title Awards in 2013 and 2014. Other 2017 honorees for innovation were the Village of Ridgewood, the City of Summit, the Borough of Freehold and the Borough of Highland Park.