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Giannoulias promises more accessible databases, and I have some suggestions

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Capitol News Illinois

“Modernization and bringing new technology is going to be at the forefront of everything we do,” Giannoulias said in an interview with Capitol News Illinois at the end of his second week in office. […]

Giannoulias also noted modernization will “play a role in every single department,” not just for driver services.

This includes making the lobbyist registration database more accessible, improving accessibility for e-books and online educational resources in libraries, and further streamlining technology services.

I’ll add my two cents.

The other day, I went to the Corporation/LLC search page to look for a company’s officers. Put in the name, hit search, up comes a list. I clicked on one link, but that wasn’t the company I wanted, so I hit the back button on my browser, clicked on a different company and wound up being directed back to the original (blank) search page. Frustrating.

A similar thing happens with the lobbyist search function. Enter a lobbying entity name, get the result, use the back button to go back to the main page, try to search for an expenditure report, and it won’t let you search. You have to reload the page, which not everyone will figure out. Also, why aren’t links to the expenditure reports on the same page with the lobbying entities and the contract lobbyist results? And why isn’t more information showing up on the expenditure report pages? The filing dates are basically all you get, so you have to click numerous links until you find a report with any actual spending.

I could go on, but do you have any ideas or suggestions for the SoS website?

       

24 Comments »
  1. - Save Ferris - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:15 pm:

    Same is true for the UCC search page. For the life of me, I don’t understand why you need to delineate a search by:

    Search by Debtor Business Name
    Search by Debtor Business Name Word

    I only use “word.”

    And THANK YOU for the back button/restart the search point.


  2. - Unionman - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:26 pm:

    I would go with a digitized version of public records filings. You can go into a SOS Business services office and search on their computers for business filings and then print them. They should be able to make that linked to the website.


  3. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:31 pm:

    Corporation/LLC search by officer and status.


  4. - dr. jimmy - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:34 pm:

    its as if a lobbyist developed the frustrating lobbyist search function.


  5. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:39 pm:

    Administrative Code. Something interactive. Currently it is all PDF / Word format. A more refined search function.


  6. - Dirty Red - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:42 pm:

    It’s a good bet a lot of their search functions would resolve themselves if the databases they query were not relying on old tech long past service support. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a responsive in-browser application, as opposed to the ad hoc searches we know all too well, to streamline the process. SoS, and any agency for that matter, could save a bundle of records requests and FOIA responses by making their data available as CSV and JSON files.

    Agencies do not make their FOIA logs readily available. That’s a shame. It could be a quick way to respond to recurring requests and to provide some transparency on all of the exhaustive gaff hunting requests they field.

    Oh, and please make the Admin Code and Revised->Compiled statutes easier to cite and search. That crosswalk is a nightmare for research projects.

    k thnx.


  7. - Quizzical - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:46 pm:

    It would be great if people could submit notice that a specific car light is out and the SOS could connect the license plate to an email address to notify the owner.


  8. - Mr K - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:47 pm:

    Highly recommend the SOS moves to a fuzzy, instant search.

    We use fuse.js — and it works wonderfully as a fast, fuzzy, instant search:

    https://fusejs.io/

    (No affiliation — just a great, free (!!) suggestion that works really, really well.)


  9. - Unionman - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:47 pm:

    @Quizzical do you want a complaint form also to notify SOS someone is driving on an expired sticker or using out of state plates longer than permitted


  10. - ChicagoBars - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:49 pm:

    When you search for units in government on the SoS site list their registered contract lobbyists.

    If you search for lobbyists individually their local govt clients come up but not vice versa.


  11. - Moe Berg - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:54 pm:

    Make the data downloadable into a spreadsheet and/or database format with the ability to run complex queries.

    If you would pardon a little thread hijacking on a related subject, the State Board of Elections could stand to make the data it has more downloadable and user friendly.

    Right now, if you go to the downloadable data link, you get a few broad categories, like “Expenditures” and no ability to further limit it. That file is enormous and includes everything from all time.

    Elsewhere on the site, you can do more detailed searches with other parameters, but it limits how many records your query is allowed to return.

    Maybe ILSOS and ISBE could share some ideas with each other. Or IDoIT could help - though the State of Illinois data portal is mostly a joke, filled with outdated and somewhat random collections of files. In the Safety Category you can find the Rockford 72 Hour Dispatch Call Log, which seems to be totally up to date, and a little below it OSFM Boilers Licensed Repair Firms for 09/26/2012.


  12. - Cubs Win - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:56 pm:

    Checks and money orders are the required payment for numerous registrations/renewals (which also need to be submitted via mail or in person) so accepting credit cards or other electronic payment methods would be a welcome upgrade.


  13. - New Day - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 12:58 pm:

    Do over. Start from scratch. Do UI research and testing. If you can’t afford it, bring together panels of people to do the testing. I promise you’ll get endless volunteers who are tired of the worst of 2008 functionality.


  14. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 1:03 pm:

    ===I could go on, but do you have any ideas or suggestions for the SoS website? ===

    Whatever changes you make, please don’t make it worse. The current website is cumbersome and not necessarily user friendly in how to conduct searches, but it at least works and works quickly even if it is finicky about inputs.

    Please, please, please do not load the website down with images or other features that dramatically increase the amount of data needed load the website or conduct searches.

    To echo city zen, corporate searches by address and corporate searches by officer name would be incredibly helpful.

    ===Agencies do not make their FOIA logs readily available. That’s a shame. It could be a quick way to respond to recurring requests and to provide some transparency on all of the exhaustive gaff hunting requests they field===

    This is a good idea in general to make one easy place to find all of the stuff that other people have FOIAed. Invites more sunlight.


  15. - northsider (the original) - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 1:12 pm:

    For corporations listings we are woefully behind almost every other state. I routinely go to the Ohio, Indiana or Florida SOS sites in order to get scanned copies of all corporate filings for the past few decades. In Ohio you can search by corporate officer’s names, which is vital in trying to determine hidden assets etc, and pull the filing up on your screen.
    Illinois provides the minimum of information and in order to see the documents filed you have to separately order physical copies.
    I think we may have been one of the first states that created a database, but it was long before the routing use of OCR and friendly searching and we never expanded from the 1992 model.


  16. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 1:34 pm:

    ==Please, please, please do not load the website down with images ==

    Is it just me, or is Alexi’s picture bigger, or lower in the screen so it is more noticeable? I don’t remember Jesse’s being as inescapable.


  17. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 2:05 pm:

    As to other agencies, IOC needs a user friendly vendor search for businesses. Legal business names often bear no logical relationship to the commonly known moniker.

    For example, decades ago the Carlinville Holiday Inn’s “legal” name was “Carlinville Steel Company” … .


  18. - Mr K - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 2:28 pm:

    –Maybe ILSOS and ISBE could share some ideas with each other. Or IDoIT could help - though the State of Illinois data portal is mostly a joke, filled with outdated and somewhat random collections of files. In the Safety Category you can find the Rockford 72 Hour Dispatch Call Log, which seems to be totally up to date, and a little below it OSFM Boilers Licensed Repair Firms for 09/26/2012.

    Yep — the state’s data portal is dead. No longer curated, no longer open source on GitHub, and probably run by a DoIT manager (i.e., a manager and not an IT person — most all of DoIT, IMHO).


  19. - Suburban Mom - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 2:32 pm:

    They need better information on how an adult procuring a drivers license for the first-time (ever, or in the US) should proceed. All the available information is for 16-year-olds or people moving states. I was trying to help a colleague get her first-ever drivers license (she moved from Tokyo, where she never drove) and the SOS site was very unhelpful.


  20. - ChicagoBars - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 2:50 pm:

    P.S. The SoS should call the ILCC for a few ideas, the search engine they offer for looking up licensees was much improved a few years ago, and they did it without throwing out the baby when changing the data bath water.


  21. - Lurker - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 2:56 pm:

    They have several links that click to “We’re sorry! This page cannot be found.” Frustrating. One is a link that is on many pages that says Brochure. And it’s annoying that it is in their FAQs


  22. - Good to see - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 5:30 pm:

    Lots of good ideas here. Very glad Alexi is open to them. The SOS site has needed a refresh for a while.

    And bummed the State’s data portal was allowed to die. It was an easy to use resource, but needed to be maintained.


  23. - Jackie Traynere - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 6:47 pm:

    Agreed, cant find registered NFP’s. No policing of orgs that dont file


  24. - dwdelaney - Wednesday, Jan 25, 23 @ 7:23 pm:

    it worked when jesse white was the sos. how did he foul it up this quickly?


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