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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Open Meetings Electronic Training Program Now Available

The OMA electronic training program for elected and appointed officials is now available on the Illinois Attorney General's website.  As we reported previously, public officials currently in office have a year to complete their training (by January 1, 2013) and officials who take office after January 1, 2012, have 90 days after taking office to complete their training.  (Practical tip 1:  although the program appears to be available now, you might want to wait until after January 1st to complete the training -- see "glitch" discussion below).

You can access the OMA training program by clicking the "Electronic Training" link on the Attorney General's website.  Then, you will need to register as an OMA Public Body Member, requiring you to create an account using the online registration form.  This account will allow you to review your training records and print out your training certificate once you successfully complete the program (assuming you can get past screen 14 - more on that later).  (Practical tip 2: When you choose your own password, make sure it is 8 characters in length (not 7, not 9, but exactly 8) and the password must contain a "special character."  Not a number.  Trust me, it doesn't work unless you follow the password instructions to the letter...I mean, special character).

After you create your account, you will be able to access the training program.  There are 58 screens you have to progress through to complete the training.  For obvious reasons, I won't share any of this information because if you are required by law to complete the training program, you need to find out for yourself!  

One important tip about the training program - make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get through the training.  The program froze up more than once, requiring me to log off and restart.  Fortunately, you can choose to go back to where you left off when you logged off.  Unfortunately, I never got past screen 14 because the program froze each time I answered the question.  In all likelihood, these program glitches will be fixed by January 1, 2012, the effective date of the training requirement.  Apparently, I was premature in trying to cross this one off the "to-do" list.  I will, as my grandmother used to say, "hold my horses" and try again next week.


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