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Transforming local governments to be transparent and constituent centric
Openness and transparency in local government are essential for a strong community. However, the burden this can place on already limited resources can make achieving transparency difficult. But despite the budget challenges and limited resources, openness and transparency are at the heart of good government.
Local governments are the closest to the constituents and the policies and procedures they enact, services they provide, decisions they make directly affect the constituents more profoundly and have a greater impact on the lives of the constituents. For this reason, becoming an open and transparent local government is no longer an option. This must be at the heart of local governments.
Becoming an open and transparent local government must begin with effective and efficient engagement with every constituent. Local governments must understand the needs and wants, their abilities and disabilities, their dreams and aspirations, and the strengths and weakness of their constituents.
This level of comprehensive and meaningful engagement with every constituent will lead to local governments understanding their constituents better.
This will lead to local governments enacting policies and procedures which enable and empower their constituents to improve the quality for themselves and others.
This will lead to constituents contributing their time, talent, and treasure for developing a vibrant community and being involved in the working of local governments where every constituent feels welcomed and valued.
The question remains, how could a local government foster an effective, efficient, and comprehensive engagement with their constituents?.
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- First, local governments must develop a vision for a transparent and constituent-centric government.
- Once the vision is established, a strategy and plan must be developed to achieve the vision.
- Then local governments must embark on a journey of implementing the plan. Implementation must be done as a “journey” and not as an “event”. Implementation must include internal and external stakeholders who have greater knowledge about the local government functions. Just relying on external consultants will not be enough and in some cases, it might lead to failure.
- The implementation must adopt a “Silicon Valley” start-up culture mentality. Must embrace failures and be willing to learn from failures to continuously improve.
- The implementation of the strategy and plan must include reviewing, modifying the current policies, procedures, process, governance model, roles and responsibilities, etc. to align with the goals and objectives of transparent and constituent centric government. In some cases, this should include replacing some of the current policies with new policies. This exercise also must include developing key performance metrics to measure the effectiveness and overall results.
- The last but not least, in parallel, local governments must embark on the digital transformation strategy and plan which enables the local government to become transparent and constituents centric. The digital transformation plan and implementation must include back-office automation leveraging integrated digital platforms such as MuniLogic SE and delivering seamless constituent experience, online services, etc., by leveraging innovative digital platforms such as MYGOVLINKS.