Sec. 604 text - Pittsburgh Open Government Amendment

Open government = better government!

Sec. 604

604.   Standards for public information


All information used by the City will conform to a single standard which enables better integration internally and makes it possible to be easily search records and for people to be notified of matters that concern them.

a.       For all City information, including but not limited to that concerning any pending or effective legislative and administrative matters and all other City activities; all documentation, communications, records, etc.; and that related to non-City activities and matters which require public permitting or involve public spaces, property, or services, the City shall adopt, implement, and maintain a unified standard of mark up, indexing, and tracking for its internal use and for providing public access and notification.   The City may either adopt state or federal standards or adopt its own standards if of comparable or greater capability or if demonstrably more appropriate for City operations without reducing the ability for public notification and archiving.   Such standards shall apply to all City units of government and agencies and shall be updated as appropriate to incorporate and accommodate new technologies and practices.


Online records shall have an accurate text version that is computer searchable.  Text descriptions of non-text elements will be included (useable for computer searches and by text readers for the blind).

b.       Where a document contains text, a digital version containing searchable, electronically readable text shall be provided. Where a physical or digital record contains non-textual elements, including but not limited to visual images, audio, video, programmatic or other inclusions, extraneous markings, hand written notes, etc., the publicly accessible digital file shall also include an accurate textual description of them, including the full content of any notes, with other contextual references as appropriate.


People are to be informed which documents aren't online yet; how many there are; and how to get access to them.

c.       Each digital record or copy made available to the public shall have a cover sheet or other inclusion or attachment which contains a notation indicating whether the complete set of documents in which the original is/was stored is available online and whether known related documents are available online or exist elsewhere.   Such notation shall, at the minimum, reasonably identify the associated and related documents which are not yet online, either listing each such document individually or generally describing the offline documents by catagory or group and giving either their exact or approximate number.   A disclaimer of accuracy shall explain how a person may verify the availability of other documents not yet online and how they may access them.


An inventory will be made of the City's public information and of all records which are available to the public.

d.       Each City unit of government and agency shall conduct and keep current an inventory of its publicly accessible information and records.  The City shall develop and maintain an index and mapping of its database of publicly accessible information and online records in a format(s) that shall be useful to and usable by the City and the general public.


True and correct copies are to be provided.

e.       The City shall use best practices to verifiably certify that each digital file placed online is a true and correct copy of the original, including any digitally converted text and non-textual portions with textual descriptions added or attached:


Certification of files occurs upon creation.

       1.       Where the original of a record is a digital record, a publicly accessible copy shall be made and verified consistent with the original and certified as such at the time of its creation.


A digital visual image of each record shall be created.

       2.       Where a physical original or a certified or accepted true and correct physical copy of a physical record exists, when a digital copy is made or if a digital copy already exists, a certified digital visual image shall also be created of such scale and resolution as to:   provide the best possible rendition which is prudent and feasible; yield all relevant detail and faithfully represent the original in its form and content; and offer an alternative means for verifying any text.   A reasonable, timely effort shall also be made to verify and certify the digital copy's consistency with its physical original.   Digital files that are not yet certified shall contain or have attached a specific notation to that effect, referring the reader to the corresponding digital image file and the original.


A way shall be provided to verify if the digital file is what it is supposed to be.

       3.       A readily available and usable means shall be provided for any user of any digital file, whether certified or not, to identify whether its content has changed, been altered, or become corrupted.


Consultants, professionals, etc. need to comply with City information standards and practices when submitting to the City, but average citizens don't.

f.       Businesses, firms, agencies, organizations, associations, and professional individuals normally engaged in the practice of preparing or regularly submitting communications, proposals, plans, presentations, comment, and other materials or forms of information or data to the City, whether for themselves or on behalf of others, shall accompany any hard or physical copy with a digital copy which is in compliance with the City's information policy and standards; individuals and organizations not normally making submissions to the City shall be exempt or provided with assistance to enable their compliance without causing hardship.   The city shall provide written guidelines and such other instructional materials as needed to assist with compliance.