TriMet launches online Accountability Center to further agency’s transparency efforts in how it does business

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TriMet is launching its Accountability Center web page where all of the agency’s key documents will be posted and are just a click away from the agency’s front page website. The web page is part of a broader focus on expanding the agency’s transparency efforts, which includes a Board of Director’s adopted policy and creation of an Accountability Committee. That Committee reports directly to TriMet’s General Manager.

Over the past seven months, TriMet has set an aggressive agenda to be even more transparent in how it does business. TriMet’s website includes all relevant items required by State transparency laws, as well as items recommended by the non-profit Sunshine Review.

The Board of Directors today adopted an Accountability Policy, which includes launching the web page, creating the Accountability Committee and exploring ways to allow remote access to Board meetings. The Committee’s work will ensure that the agency has updated and relevant information online today, and into the future.

“We are expanding our transparency efforts to better inform the public about our agency, make it easier to access key information and, in turn, have the public more engaged in our decision making,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. “My focus is to set the bar even higher and provide additional access to information.”

To access TriMet’s Accountability Center, look for the link on TriMet’s home page at TriMet.org or go there directly at TriMet.org/accountability. The site brings existing online documents into one web page, while also adding new items, such as the agency checkbook register. The site includes:

• Audited financial forecasts (FY10-FY13), adopted budgets (FY11-FY14), Single Audit Reports (FY10-FY13) and Board approved policies (Investment Policy, Debt Management Policy, Unrestricted Fund Balance and Contingency Policy)
• Agency Checkbook register (FY10-FY14)
• Performance measures
• Pension and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) actuarial reports
• Board of Directors meeting schedule, approved resolutions and ordinances, past meeting minutes TriMet Code and administrative rules
• Policy and Planning documents, including Transit Investment Priorities and Title VI Program and Policies
• Public Records Requests form and request log

The public can sign up to receive email alerts each time the site is updated.

The Accountability Center, along with the newly adopted Policy and Committee, evolved out of an independent review of how the agency handles Public Records Requests (PRR) and how it produces documents for legal cases. The agency receives a high volume of PRR, averaging about two each day. An independent review conducted by the law firm of Stoll Berne found that “TriMet works diligently to process all requests in a timely fashion,” but that not all databases are connected, and the agency needs to centralize its documents for storing, organizing and searching electronically. The review was completed in August and in September, TriMet hired IMerge Consulting to catalogue all documents as a first step toward an electronic document management system.

The agency must balance the cost of electronic discovery against its core business of expanding service. Investing in electronic tools to improve document management and records retrieval is estimated to cost the agency between $3 million to $5 million. It will take five to seven years to implement.