Gloucester, Mathews get top marks in online transparency

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Apr 03, 2013 - 12:10 PM

Photo: A number of Gloucester County employees involved in making its website transparent, include, front row from left, Dale Burrell, Linda Evans, Pam Allen and Kristin Powell; back row, Amanda Wallace, Sharon Roy, Di Cookson, Brian Burchett and Bobbi Morgan; not pictured, Emily Gibson, Denise Canada, Trish Cronin, Laura Tolan and Cindy Jessie. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

A number of Gloucester County employees involved in making its website transparent, include, front row from left, Dale Burrell, Linda Evans, Pam Allen and Kristin Powell; back row, Amanda Wallace, Sharon Roy, Di Cookson, Brian Burchett and Bobbi Morgan; not pictured, Emily Gibson, Denise Canada, Trish Cronin, Laura Tolan and Cindy Jessie. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Both Gloucester and Mathews County’s government websites once again shone brightly in the 2013 Sunny Awards given to state and local governments to recognize efforts in transparency and open government.

This is the fourth year in a row Gloucester County has received national recognition and the third straight year Mathews County has received the award.

The Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization that focuses on government transparency, graded websites of states, cities, counties, and school districts using a 10-point transparency checklist.

"The Sunny Awards recognize governments that make transparency a priority," said Michael Barnhart, president of Sunshine Review. "The winners of the Sunny Awards are organizations that proactively share public information that empowers citizens and keeps government accountable to the people."

To determine eligibility for receiving a Sunny Award, the websites were analyzed by Sunshine Review editors on information such as budgets, meetings and financial audits. Gloucester and Mathews took top honors with an A+, the highest grade achievable, joining five other Virginia counties.

"For the past several years, the information technology department has made government transparency one of its major goals," Gloucester’s information technology director Scott Varner said. "Brian Burchett, applications and web developer/analyst for the county, has spearheaded the department’s effort to get all available information into the hands of citizens. He and his dedicated team of department content editors are vigilant in their efforts, not to win an award, but because it is the right thing to do. It’s wonderful that they are receiving recognition for their hard work."