In Depth: An "X-Ray" Look at City Website Improvements
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The city of Lexington's website, LexingtonKY.gov, has undergone several changes over the past couple of years. A new committee formed by Mayor Jim Newberry called the LeX-Ray Committee will look at ways to make even more improvements. WUKY spoke with Rama Dhuwaraha, the Lexington's Chief Information Officer and chairman of the committee.
WUKY: What is the LeX-Ray initiative?
RD: The LeX-Ray has two components: the e-transparency and e-commerce components. The e-transparency calls for more accountability where the citizens can view financial transactions and statements that the city puts out every year and also make our budget book, which is currently online, more citizen-friendly, where they can go through information in a much more searchable and easier manner.
WUKY: The channel for facilitating all of these improvements is LexingtonKY.gov. The URL or web address wasn't always "lexingtonky" for city government. What's changed with the website over the past couple of years? RD: When I came in back in '07, the website was called LFUCG.com. It wasn't very citizen-friendly; it was more focused on how we were organized internally. Then we went to a more citizen-centric website and standardized our naming conventions along with what with what other cities usually use with a dot-gov. And Lexington was already taken so we went with LexingtonKY.gov.
WUKY: What's left that you'd still like to improve with the website? What is the LeX-Ray Committee going to be looking at?
RD: We wanted to create a virtual gateway when we designed the website, and that's what's left at this point. A number of initiatives behind the scenes, inside city government are taking place to refine our processes so we'll be able to serve the citizens better through this virtual gateway online. Primarily we're talking about e-payments, permits, and forms.
WUKY: What is needed to get this going and to get it to where you ultimately want it to be?
RD: Software upgrades and the hardware upgrades have been happening in the last few years. So we're at the point where we can take the next step which is organize and prioritize what goes online first. Is it going to be a building permit? Is it going to be our parks initiatives? And that's why the mayor has put this committee together to make some recommendations and also refine back-end processes so we can handle these.
WUKY: Do you have a budget to work with?
RD: The budget for the LeX-Ray initiative has not been put together. Once the recommendations are made, we will prioritize how the money is going to be spent.
WUKY: What kind of timeline are you all looking at?
RD: Well the initiative is going to be 1-3 years. It's going to be ongoing, it's a long-term initiative. But we have some short-term objectives within the next six months to get some information online.
WUKY: What are some of those short term things that we can look forward to?
RD: You can look forward to some financial reports, online shelter rentals, and we're already in the process of putting most of the forms online. But the challenge we have currently is how many forms are fillable online? Not many. That's the improvement we're trying to make in the next few months.