Cook County, IL

Ordinance (May 4, 2011)

View original policy

Highlight text matching an Open Data Policy Guideline:

Note: The original version of the policy (linked to above) was passed on May 4, 2011. (You can also find an annotated plain-text version here.) On Dec 4, 2013, that policy was modified to remove a single word. See amendment here. The current version — with the modification but without the "Whereas" clauses — can be found here.


WHEREAS, Cook County is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in County government; and

WHEREAS, it is the desire and intention of the Cook County Board of Commissioners to have County officials work together with the public to ensure open and effective government; and

WHEREAS, through the establishment of an Open Government Plan, Cook County will institute a system of transparency, public participation, collaboration and accountability; and

WHEREAS, such public participation and involvement will engage more minds, which in turn shall generate dynamic feedback and innovative ideas; and

WHEREAS, the online provision of public data in an accessible format would be instrumental in helping to encourage cooperation and technological advancement; and

WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of Cook County to pursue efficiency through the Open Government Plan so as to create economic opportunities, increase transparency, use new technologies to the County’s advantage, and eliminate wasteful redundancy; and

WHEREAS, within 90 days, the County shall issue, through separate guidance or as part of, or in collaboration with, any planned comprehensive management guidance, a framework for how the County can use challenges, prizes, and other incentive-backed strategies to find innovative or cost-effective solutions to utilizing or improving open government; and

WHEREAS, these objectives all work towards the overarching goal of ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and Cook County government fosters public trust.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED, by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, that Chapter 2, Article 1, Sec. 2-5 of the Cook County Code is hereby enacted as follows:

Sec. 2-5. Open Government Plan

(a) Purpose. In order to increase transparency, accountability, and informed public participation, and to create economic development opportunities, Cook County (“County”) departments and agencies, including the offices of the separately elected County officials (“County Officials” or “County Agency”) shall expand access to information, by making certain information available online in a machine-readable, open format, that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, sorted, searched, and reused by commonly used Web search applications and commonly used open format software that facilitate access to, and the reuse of, such information.

(b) Website. In not less than 90 days, the Cook County shall establish a common website that shall serve as the source for countywide and departmental activities related to this Open Cook County Initiative (the Website). County Officials shall use their best efforts to publish information to the Website, including, but not limited to: revenue, spending and procurement information; crime and health statistics; contracts with private firms; policies or procedures; and other data or information commonly requested pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in a format consistent with the standards set forth herein.

(c) Schedule. Inasmuch as timely and consistent publication of information is an essential component of open government, the County shall develop schedules for making information available to the public and indicating when such information is updated.

(d) With respect to County information and data, the presumption shall be in favor of openness, to the extent permitted by law and subject to valid privacy, confidentiality, security, or other restrictions and exemptions afforded under FOIA or other applicable federal, state or local laws. Where practicable, County Officials shall publish all data that is not subject to valid exemptions provided under FOIA as well as privacy, security, or privilege limitations or that is not otherwise made available by the County pursuant to other initiatives.

(e) Within 120 days, each County Agency shall create a catalog of its public information. The catalog shall be accessible through this Open Cook County Initiative Website.


(g) Within 120 days, each County Agency shall identify and publish to the Website, in an open format, the data listed in its catalog of its public information that is readily available and that is available online, which shall in any event, consist of at least three high-value data sets or other types of previously nonpublicly accessible information.

(h) The Website shall additionally include a mechanism that shall allow for the public to provide feedback to the County on, and assess the quality of, published information. This mechanism shall additionally allow for recommendations from the public to the County of other information to consider prioritizing for publication.

(i) Each County Agency shall engage in its best efforts to respond to public feedback received via the Website on a regular, timely basis. Responses to such public feedback may include descriptions of actions taken, or reasons for not taking action, based on such public feedback received.

(j) Each County Agency shall publish every FOIA request in an open format on the Website, unless a request is subject to valid privacy, security, or privilege limitations. If a request is subject to limitation, there shall be a redacted version of the request released that discloses the nature of the request, but not the specifics of the request. Each FOIA request shall be listed in conjunction with the status of the request and whether such request has been fulfilled.

(k) Where deemed appropriate, the County may assert or establish any licensure or use restrictions for information provided on the Website.

(l) Within 120 days, each County Agency shall develop and publish an Open Government Plan (“Plan”) that shall describe how each department will enhance and develop transparency, public participation, and collaboration. The Open Government Plan shall describe steps the County Agency will take to conduct its work more openly and to publish its information online. The Plan shall describe how the County Agency is currently meeting its legal information dissemination obligations under FOIA and how the County Agency plans to create more access to information and opportunities for public participation.

(m) The Open Government Plan shall describe steps the County shall take to enhance and expand its practices to further cooperation among County Agencies, other governmental agencies, the public, and nonprofit and private entities in fulfilling the goals and objectives of the County. The Plan shall include specific details about:

  1. Proposed changes to internal management and administrative policies to improve collaboration; and
  2. Proposals to use technology platforms to improve collaboration among employees and the public; and
  3. Descriptions of and links to appropriate websites where the public can learn about existing collaboration efforts; and
  4. Innovative methods, such as prizes and competitions, to obtain ideas from, and to increase collaboration with, the public, as well as those in the private sector, nonprofit, and academic communities.

(n) Within 45 days, the President shall establish a working group that focuses on transparency, accountability, public participation, and collaboration within County government. This group, with senior level representation from other County Agencies, shall serve several critical functions, including:

  1. Transparency Forum. The working group shall provide a forum to share best practices on innovative ideas to promote transparency. This shall include system and process solutions for information collection, aggregation, validation, and dissemination; and
  2. Participation and Collaboration Forum. The working group shall provide a forum to share best practices on innovative ideas to promote participation and collaboration, including how to experiment with new technologies, take advantage of the expertise and insight of people both inside and outside of County government, and form high-impact collaborations with researchers, the private sector, and the public; and
  3. Public Input Forum. The working group shall provide a forum for developing resolutions to issues in accordance with Section 2-5(h) herein.

(o) Within 120 days, the Chief Information Officer shall review existing County policies to identify impediments to open government and to the use of new technologies and, where necessary, issue clarifying guidance and/or propose revisions to such policies to promote greater openness in government.

(p) Any clarifying guidance and/or proposed policies related to this Open Government Directive shall be available through the County’s Open Government Website.

(Ord. No. 11-O-54, 5-4-2011; Ord. No. 14-0076, 12-4-2013.)

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