City plans to pay Seattle-based firm $200k over 3 years for more accessible records online


Published: Monday, August 5, 2013 at 6:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 5, 2013 at 6:19 p.m.

The city of Gainesville plans to pay a Seattle-based software firm close to $200,000 over three years to make city records searchable and more accessible online.

On Thursday, commissioners voted 5-1, with Mayor Ed Braddy in dissent and Todd Chase absent, to authorize staff to finalize a no-bid, $197,892 contract with Socrata Inc.

Braddy said he supported the city moving in the direction of improved online access to records but wanted the contract bid out.

Typically, the city has a competitive bidding process for contracts worth $50,000 or more.

The Administrative Services Department concluded that other cities around the country, including Dallas and Austin, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; and Wellington had also contracted with Socrata outside a competitive bid process, saying it was the only firm with servers, software licenses and resources in place to provide the services.

The city is hiring the company to further the "Government 2.0" initiative Commissioner Lauren Poe first pushed for during his 2012 swearing-in ceremony. Last summer, the commission added the initiative to its strategic plan.

Under it, government records would be more readily available and searchable online. City services also would be more interactive.

San Francisco was the first U.S. city to launch a Government 2.0 website. Some of its features include searchable, downloadable information on campaign contributions, crime reports, restaurant health inspections and business registrations. Some of the mobile applications created with the information allow users to search for parks, available parking spaces and bus stops, with updated schedules for public transportation arrivals and departures.

Gainesville Administrative Services Director Becky Rountree said possibilities for Gainesville include searchable data on the city's finances — such as daily expenditures, the amount spent on certain construction projects or the contracts specific firms have with the city and the money paid out under them.

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