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County plans technology to improve its public records access

Madison County officials are planning to make it easier for residents to request and receive public records available through the Freedom of Information Act.

“We’ve been looking into this for years and how we can better serve the public,” Chairman Kurt Prenzler said.

Prenzler (shown) said the board voted Wednesday night on a resolution to approve a $45,000, three-year contract with GovQA/Granicus for software to process and manage FOIA requests and information from citizens and media.

“This technology will enhance the county’s commitment to open, transparent and cost-efficient delivery to fulfill FOIA requests in accordance with Illinois law,” Prenzler said.

State’s Attorney Tom Haine said as the volume of record requests grows and their complexity increases, the county chose something that would best work for everyone.

“Transparency is fundamental to good, accountable government,” Haine said.  “I’m glad to see the county take this step. Better technology will streamline our FOIA process — which often has legal and practical considerations.

“And a smoother process will better serve the interests of citizens while also saving public resources in the long run.”

GovQA’s Public Records Request Management software is a cloud-based system capable of managing documents and other information while enhancing transparency.

The software will allow residents to track their FOIA requests online and it will reduce the amount of paperwork and free up time for employees. Other counties and municipalities throughout Illinois are using the software.

Prenzler said the City of Belleville also uses the software.

“Madison County understands and supports the public’s right to access public records,” Prenzler said. “Our goal is to provide service in a transparent and timely manner, and we believe this software helps us achieve that.”

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