Five Ideas for Creating Transparency Within Your Local Agency

Paul Gillin of the book The New Influencers is noted as saying “Transparency may be the most disruptive and far-reaching innovation to come out of social media.”

Isn’t that the truth? Good or bad, social media has changed the way the government and media releases information. Social media allows people of all ages, genders, classes and interests to share, spread and consider new information in a single keystroke. It is a very powerful—and sometimes—intimidating tool.

But as the saying goes: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Accordingly, more government agencies are accepting and embracing this new age of transparency online, which has allowed their constituents greater access to, and the ability to participate in the sharing of public information.

Go Live

With the current age of social media and the internet, it is easier than ever to broadcast meetings online. Streaming public meetings, hearings, and local proceedings allows citizens unable to attend the chance too see and hear the meetings in real time and even provide feedback as it’s happening. These streams can also be recorded and archived for future review.

Encourage Participation

Bringing citizens into the conversation through live streaming or social media is an effective way to connect with constituents and display a commitment to transparency. Every government agency should have a forum, website, or portal for citizens to comment, debate, provide feedback, take polls, and participate in conversations about their local government.

Public Record

Whether you go live at a public meeting, or use a more traditional method to record the happenings of a local meeting, making it a matter of public record—and doing so in a timely manner—creates a sense of transparency and commitment to informing the people.

Meeting Minutes on Steroids

Beyond the standard meeting minutes, many organizations are integrating a variety of information into the public record such as agendas, audio, video, transcripts, and digital documents. These items are searchable, downloadable, and can be syndicated and cross-linked within an archive.

Proactive Sharing

When agencies proactively share the decisions and progress made at local meetings, it builds a sense of transparency. Sharing these matters on blogs, websites, and social media is easy and helps build a connection between the local government and its constituents.

As potentially disruptive and far-reaching as it may be, the fact is, social media has made it possible for more people to connect with and participate in their local governments. This has prompted more agencies to peel away at the shrouded layers of the bureaucratic onion in favor of increasing the transparency of their processes, which can’t be a bad move.

If your agency is interested in learning more about how it can improve its transparency, contact Black Mountain Software and ask about PublicView, our Cloud-based open data portal that allows citizens to easily search, view and understand complex datasets and financial information. Or check out our partners over at ClearGov to see how they can enhance your current BMS product experience with easy, integrated access to a full range of cloud-based solutions for local government budgeting and financial management.

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