One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Still on the subject of DeKalb’s service agreement with website designer CivicPlus.

There are two versions available: the agreement included in the February 9 agenda packet, and the version that Mayor John Rey signed on February 11.

No, they are not the same.

Yes, it is disturbing to think that we would be reading one version of a contract while city council votes on another.

They apparently continued to work on it after posting the agenda, and didn’t bother to update so the public could look at the same contract that council was voting on.

Another possibility would be that contract provisions were amended during the meeting, except there is nothing in the meeting minutes to indicate anything of the sort happened.

I’ll pull out an example of one of these differences between the two documents that I’ve found so far.

As far as I can tell, the signed/final version of the service agreement is not online. However, a couple months ago the response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was forwarded to me that contained a version freshly signed by Mayor Rey that was being delivered to CivicPlus. If you want to see the final contract yourself, you could likewise FOIA it or get in touch with me and I’ll send the whole response to you (it’s a 110-page PDF).

Here are the two versions of the accessibility provision of the agreement. I’ve put the change in bold.

February 9 (agenda) version:

41. Our designers and programmers automatically implement all the accessibility features necessary to ensure your site is compliant with accessibility standards outlined within Section 508. We will make recommendations on best practices for keeping your content accessible and available for all users by ensuring that, among other things:

• All menu items are clickable
• Submenus display throughout the site
• Alt tags are used for images
• Site maps are dynamically generated
• Documents and links can be set to open in the same window

CivicPlus recognizes accessibility standards recommendations made by a variety of groups, including the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) as written in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Through adherence to Section 508, CivicPlus is able to meet almost all Priority One, Two and Three guidelines set forth in the
WCAG. Those left unmet do not need to be addressed in order to allow basic access to content; some of the more stringent requirements of the WCAG may limit design and content development options.

February 11 (signed) version, with the addition in bold:

37. CivicPlus will create the website to comply with all WCAG 2.0 guidelines the Client requires. Upon completion of the site, the Client will be responsible for page content and compliance. Our designers and programmers automatically implement all the accessibility features necessary to ensure your site is compliant with accessibility standards outlined within Section 508. We will make recommendations on best practices for keeping your content accessible for all users by ensuring that, among other things:

  • All menu items are clickable
  • Submenus display throughout the site
  • Alt tags are used for images
  • Site maps are dynamically generated
  • Documents and links can be set to open in the same window
  • CivicPlus recognizes accessibility standards recommendations made by a variety of groups, including the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) as written in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Through adherence to Section 508, CivicPlus is able to meet almost all Priority One, Two and Three guidelines set forth in the WCAG. Those left unmet do not need to be addressed in order to allow basic access to content; some of the more stringent requirements of the WCAG may limit design and content development options.

    An addition was made to add a mention of WCAG 2.0 to the beginning of this provision, not to hold CivicPlus to the higher standard but perhaps as an attempt to look as if they have under shallow inspection. This is, after all, what the city agreed to under its settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

    The final version also omitted provisions for optional, additional services and arrangements with third-party providers.

    None of the changes is particularly earth-shattering here, but who’s the judge of that? The point is that anyone who thought they were reading the final draft that was up for a vote was mistaken. How often does it happen that we only have access to outdated drafts? Don’t we deserve a peep at what’s actually being voted on — and more importantly, doesn’t the Open Meetings Act say we do?