Three Must-Have Local Government Web Search Tools

If you frequently need to search the Web for information about how other local governments in Washington or other parts of the country are dealing with particular issues, or if you often need to search municipal codes from other jurisdictions, then there are three search tools that you absolutely must have in your Web search repertoire: (1) MRSC’s custom Google search tool for Washington county, city and town websites; (2) the International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) Local Government Site Search tool; and (3) MRSC’s combined city/county code search tool.

MRSC’s and ICMA’s local government website search tools can be much more effective than general Web searches for certain types of searches (e.g., information that local governments typically post on their websites) since they limit their coverage to the information contained on the selected local government websites. This means that your search results are likely to be much more relevant to the topics you are interested in. MRSC’s combined code search tool will make quick work of any code searches you need to do and will, of course, also be more efficient than searching through online codes one at a time.

MRSC’s Custom Google Search Tool for Washington City/County Websites

MRSC’s custom Google search tool for Washington city and county websites appears on the same page and just below our “MRSC site search” tool under the “Internet Search” heading. There are two search fields, one for city and town websites and the other for county websites.

Our Google search tool covers the 227 Washington cities and towns (out of 281) that have a website and all 39 Washington county government websites. Our Websites – Washington Cities and Towns page lists all of the cities and towns that are included in this search. Cities and towns for which we don’t have a current website on record are listed with a “Profile” link to some basic descriptive information about the city. If your city or town has a website that we missed, let us know so we can add you to the custom search tool.

International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Local Government Site Search Tool

ICMA’s Local Government Site Search tool searches the text of thousands of local government websites across the country. In addition, after searching, you can refine your search further by limiting your results to websites from one of five ICMA regions.  ICMA’s advanced search page offers several more options that allow you to more narrowly focus your search.

ICMA’s search tool will be particularly useful for larger cities and counties for which there are fewer comparably-sized jurisdictions in Washington. Of course, just having access to a much larger group of local government websites regardless of their size or location will also come in handy for a number of research projects.

MRSC’s Combined City/County Code Search Tool

If you have been tasked with drafting sample ordinance or code language for an issue that has come up in your city or county or if you simply want to compare your city’s or county’s ordinance/code provisions to those from other jurisdictions, then MRSC’s combined city/county code search tool will be the best tool for the job.

MRSC’s combined city/county code search tool allows you to search multiple Washington codes simultaneously. There are two search fields, “Part 1” includes Washington city/county municipal codes hosted by MRSC and Code Publishing Co., and “Part 2” includes codes hosted on Washington city/county websites and by publishers other than Code Publishing. Together, these two search fields include 193 Washington city/county codes (163 city codes and 30 county codes).

If you know exactly which city and/or county codes you are interested in, then you can, of course, also browse or search individual city and county codes.

So, give these a try and let me know what you think. There are more search tools where these came from, but I can’t give up all of my search secrets in just one post. Please do, however, feel free to share your favorite local government Web search tools/resources in the comments section below.

About Byron Katsuyama

Byron has over 30 years of experience in local government policy and administration research including such areas as forms of government, strategic planning, performance measurement, and general local government management. In his own community of Kirkland, Byron served for eight years as a member of the city’s planning commission.
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