Author Archives: Jake Holley

Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

The latest trend in government is all about transparency—and the embrace of innovative technology by government is making it easier than ever to provide transparency simply, efficiently, and accurately.

It can, however, leave your agency exposed to the public, and they may have questions when looking at your budget and books. In this scenario, a good audit trail is essential because it can save your agency time, preserve its reputation, and minimize errors.

The concept is simple: changes to accounting records should be documented and saved for future reference. Software, such as the governmental accounting software offered by BMS, makes this process straightforward. An audit trail will help you log, maintain, and monitor your accounting processes to protect yourself and your agency from fraud, fines for non-compliance, and potential funding issues. Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities | Comments Off on Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

Don’t Get Duped When Upgrading Your Utility Infrastructure

American City & County magazine recently published an article detailing the misadventures of Jackson, Mississippi’s attempt to upgrade their water meter and billing systems after signing a contract with Siemens, Inc. The contract (signed in December of 2012) was supposed to generate 120 million dollars in guaranteed savings. However, incorrectly installed water meters and syncing issues with the city’s wireless networks led to residential customers being heavily overcharged while some industrial customers never even received a bill. The city’s attempts to rectify these problems led to increased operating costs and no savings, despite Siemen’s guarantee.

Unsurprisingly, the City of Jackson sued Siemens and local subcontractors over the debacle. Read more >

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Schools Are Essential, Too

Despite the myriad of challenges that have arose in this doozy of a year, there have been a few net positives that have come along with it. Many essential services have remained functional or quickly adapted thanks to technological advances and the ease of remote work. Groups like the NLC have been lobbying for better municipal funding to improve existing local infrastructure, and long overdue conversations regarding policing and broader criminal justice reforms have become part of the cultural zeitgeist. Perhaps most importantly, though, is the way in which many schools have used the summer to come up with new ways to educate children and keep them safe at the same time. Read more >

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What Utility Customers Expect in the 21st Century

There are some things we love about the “good ol’ days.” Like calling a phone number and speaking to a person, face-to-face interactions with customers, and a cup of plain black coffee. We find that most of our customers like these things too.

But as technology becomes more predominant, not just amongst the younger generations but all generations, it’s important that our agency—and yours—keep up with customers’ changing needs.

Is your utility billing software keeping pace with the 21st Century? If not, it may be time to consider moving your utility billing needs over to a software system that has all the enhanced features your customers have come to expect: automatic bank drafting, online statements and payments, enhanced reporting, real-time record updates, and the ability to query based on a variety of criteria. Read more >

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Big Data for Small Cities

US House Passes Moving Forward Act in a Bid to Improve Local Broadband Infrastructure

As a part of their Rebuild With Us campaign, the National League of Cities (NLC) announced that the US House of Representatives recently passed the Moving Forward Act, a bill designed to increase federal investment in broadband infrastructure on a municipal level. While the bill also includes investments in public safety, broadband consumer protections, affordability and digital equity, there is a significant focus on new provisions to help smaller cities that might be struggling. These provisions include building new or updating existing broadband infrastructure, allowing more flexibility when it comes to investing in local broadband, and prioritizing connectivity for rural areas. Read more >

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The Purpose of Governmental Budgeting

The budget preparation process is an opportunity for an agency to collaboratively set and meet financial goals. So what may seem like a bunch of never-ending numbers on a spreadsheet is actually much more: a plan of action for the future of both the agency and the community it serves.

Since many of our clients are actively participating in preliminary budget preparation right now, we thought this would be the perfect time to discuss the four goals of the budget process to highlight why it is so important.

The Four Goals of the Budget Preparation Process

1. Establish Goals to Guide Future Decision Making

The first step of budget preparation is to create a set of budgetary goals. Read more >

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Cities Are Essential

According to the National League of Cities (NLC), despite the massive spending bills passed by Congress designed to aid states in battling the coronavirus outbreak, “there has been no direct aid provided to the majority of cities, towns and villages.” This is particularly concerning considering that the frontline for subduing the effects of the virus occurs primarily at the local level.

While businesses are beginning to reopen across the nation after a long shut down, local governments have continued to provide essential services because, as James Inman, City Manager for Bessemer City, NC notes in Southern City Magazine, “the water has to flow.”

Things might seem like they are getting back to normal, but the economic impact of coronavirus shutdowns cannot be understated for local governments. Read more >

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Workforce Confidence Index Poll Reflects Both Optimism and Worry

According to a recent Workforce Confidence Index poll conducted by LinkedIn, most people have an optimistic view about their ability to effectively work remotely, while a slightly smaller portion thinks their entire industry can. This is good news considering remote work is expected to stay, even as states slowly roll back economic restrictions due to COVID-19. The highest rates of optimism are found, unsurprisingly, in the software and IT sectors, followed closely by finance, media and communications. Public administration employees rank somewhere in the middle while tourism and retail bring up the rear. The results also show skepticism in other industries with an emphasis on in-person interaction, such as healthcare and manufacturing. Read more >

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How to Effectively Work from Home

While opportunities for telecommuting and remote work have become more prominent within the tech sector over the last few years, working from home is now a reality for many. This digital reinvention of the workplace can be a jarring transition from regular office life, but it doesn’t have to be.  

Unlike in Japan, most American tech workers are uniquely positioned, both logistically and culturally, to easily work from home due to increases in the availability of cloud technology and access to home Wi-Fi and personal computers. Efficiency, however, can be an issue. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to keep efficiency high or even increase it. Read more >

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The Importance of Civic Engagement Now More Than Ever

According to the National Research Center (NRC), data collected by the National Community Survey over the last 15 years shows that nearly 80% of residents expect their governments to provide opportunities for community engagement. But with most government offices closed and employees working from home due to the spread of COVID-19 and the adoption of social distancing guidelines, attending a board meeting or town hall is virtually impossible. The timing couldn’t be worse either since civic engagement is now more crucial than ever. As Senior Vice President of Innovation at Polco, Michelle Kobayashi, tells the NRC: “finding ways to connect with people when they are socially isolated…gives people a sense of empowerment…a sense of things they can do to make them feel like they have some control over the situation.”

Luckily, 90% of American adults are active online and the amount of public sector organizations using online tools to gather feedback is on the rise. Read more >

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