In an academic and performance-based study involving prestigious universities and specialists in e-governance, the City of Fort Smith ranked 10 among each 50 states largest and second largest cities.
Fort Smith ranked 10th overall, falling a fraction of a point behind Boston in the competition for ninth place. Cities performing ahead of Fort Smith included Seattle, St. Paul, Minn., Milwaukee, Wisc., Minneapolis, Minn., Washington, D.C., Portland, Ore., St. Louis, and Virginia Beach, Va.
Fort Smith City Administrator Ray Gosack congratulated Director of Information and Technology Services Russell Gibson, and every member of the IT team involved in building the city’s website  from the ground up, according to a statement from the city.
“Congratulations to you and the ITS staff for this prestigious ranking. We are indeed among elite company when you look at the list of cities,” Gosack wrote in the note.
Gibson praised the staff who organized a vast amount of content, provided graphics representing the beauty of Fort Smith, and provided a customized database that allows content managers across all departments to keep information up to date and relevant to citizens. IT staff members principally involved in the overhaul of the city’s web page were Gibson, Kevin Brandenburg, database administrator/lead developer; Graham Henry, network administrator; Ben Pense, network administrator; and Jeff Fears, GIS analyst.
“City leadership continues to emphasize providing information access to citizens 24/7 and an open, transparent philosophy for conducting the people’s business. Technology is a crucial component of fulfilling these objectives,” Gibson said in the statement.
The U.S. Municipalities E-Governance Survey, conducted by Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration and its National Center for Public Performance, places Fort Smith at 10th overall, but second in the “content” category (behind the City of Boston), 3rd in “overall results of cities in the South), 5th in the category of “results in services,” 10th in the category of Privacy/Security, and 22nd in terms of citizen participation. Considering social media platforms have only been emphasized for the past 10 to 12 months, staff is encouraged that citizen participation will improve prior to the next Rutgers survey.
“The results of this survey – and the recent “B” grade from the Sunshine Organization – serve as proof that we have a strong foundation for building increased awareness in activities related to our city’s future,” Gosack said. “We have an earnest desire to reach out to all citizens as we seek input about critical priorities for the decades to come.”