Cumberland Times-News

March 23, 2013

Allegany County website receives group’s top award

High level of transparency earns government an A+ rating

Greg Larry
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — The commissioners for Allegany County were informed on Thursday that the their website had been awarded an A+ rating from the Sunshine Review, a nonprofit organization that ranks state and local government websites based on their level of transparency.

Known as the Sunny Award, the A+ ranking, which is the highest possible grade, places the county government’s website among the top 1 percent in the country.

Commissioner Bill Valentine made the announcement of the 2012 award at the commission’s meeting at the County Complex on Kelly Road on Thursday.

“That’s wonderful. This is real good news,” said Michael McKay, commission president.

Valentine said that all of the commissioners have maintained that transparency is of great importance.

The Sunshine Review grades state and local websites by using a checklist, which measures what content is available on government websites against what should be provided.

“I believe our commitment to transparency is working. Let’s continue to get those A pluses,” said Valentine.

The county government received an A- grade in 2011.

The citation on the Sunny Award stated that Allegany County was being recognitioned for one of the most transparent government websites in America by scoring in the top 1 percent among 7,000 state and local websites analyzed by the organization.

Sunshine Review’s “Transparency Checklist" analyzes websites for information about budgets, meetings, elected and administrative officials, permits and zoning, audits, contracts, lobbying, public records and taxes.

Garrett County received an A- grade while other counties in Maryland didn’t fare as well. Washington received a B, while Caroline and Somerset counties received a D and F, respectively.

Dedicated to educating the public about proactive disclosure of government data and other open government initiatives, the Sunshine Review began monitoring governmental websites in 2008.

Allegany County Administrator David Eberly said that two staff members had been instrumental in the county receiving the Sunny Award.

“Let’s recognize Bretta Reinhard and Beth Thomas for all their hard work in helping to pull this together,” said Eberly.

Baltimore City and County both received a B grade, while Montgomery County received B- from the organization.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com