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Four Ways to Enhance Accountability and Transparency with Municipal Software

By Scott Lamb, Solutions Engineer, Catalis Public Works & Citizen Engagement

Expectations for accountability and transparency of public institutions have never been higher. Municipal governments are well positioned to be leaders in accountable and transparent governance, through developing practices that foster a strong mutual trust between the public, elected officials, and local administrations. Below are four ways that software can contribute to accountability and transparency.

Meeting Legislative Requirements 

Navigating the complex layers of regulations impacting municipalities poses challenges. Staff must be knowledgeable about applicable federal, provincial/state, county, and regional legislation, in addition to local bylaws and policies. Non-compliance, whether intentional or not, can impact funding, lead to costly legal action, and result in public discontent. Establishing a standard operating procedure that adheres to legislative and regulatory requirements sets a high bar for accountability and enables municipalities to confidently embrace transparency. Dedicated software providers for municipalities understand the regulatory landscape of their clients. Purpose-built municipal software streamlines reporting, automates processes, and aligns workflows with specific regulatory environments, facilitating compliance for organizations. 

Enhancing Two-Way Communication 

Accurate and timely communication from governments leads to engaged and involved communities, generating a perception of reliability and trust. Conversely, infrequent and inaccurate communication causes misinformation to spread, leaving the public feeling lost and confused. Strong inbound and outbound communication strategies enable municipalities to be transparent and remain accountable to residents and ratepayers. Municipal software contributes to this goal by: 

Efficiently Reaching Targeted Cohorts

Mass notification software allows municipalities to communicate with specific population segments through voice calls, text messages, and email. This approach ensures that citizens receive information via their preferred channels, enhancing public trust and transparency.

Managing Citizen Requests

Providing citizens with a request management portal streamlines the process of capturing, replying to, tracking, and addressing citizen requests. These systems promote greater accountability, ensuring that no request goes unanswered. 

Ensuring User-Friendly Access to Information and Services 

Transparent governance relies on the easy access to accurate and timely information and services. Utilizing municipal software ensures that the right people find the information they need when they need it. Here’s how municipal software can help: 

Ensuring Accessibility

Municipal websites should be designed with accessibility in mind, complying with legislated requirements. This ensures that everyone can access the necessary information. 

Enhancing Self-Service Options

Existing systems used by municipalities, including payments, permitting, licensing, GIS, tax, and meeting management, often have underutilized public portal functionality. By improving self-service options, municipalities empower ratepayers to find information independently. 

Maintaining Data Consistency

Integrating municipal software within the same suite minimizes manual steps and redundant systems. This approach ensures that accurate and up-to-date information is available across various systems. 

Establishing Clear Accountability Mechanisms 

A recurring theme in municipal operations is that “staff don’t know where they are spending their time.” Despite completing valuable and excellent work daily, the inability to quantify when and where tasks are completed makes accountability difficult and transparency unclear. Municipal software can address this challenge by: 

Tracking Time and Resources

Utilizing Work Order and Inventory software allows managers to maintain a clear record of who completes tasks, when they are completed, where they occur, and the resources utilized. This transparency provides an accurate picture of efficiency and resource allocation. 

Standardizing Processes and Workflows

By implementing work order and task management software for repeatable tasks, all staff members adhere to a consistent workflow. This approach enhances efficiency and establishes a standard by which employees can be held accountable. 

Conclusion 

Technology plays a crucial role in enabling municipalities to implement transparent and accountable governance, administration, and operations. Catalis offers a comprehensive suite of software specifically designed for municipalities. With the support of a team of municipal experts, over 1,000 North American municipalities trust Catalis for our government software needs. Reach out today to discover how our solutions can enhance transparency and accountability within your organization. 

Visit Catalis for a comprehensive list of our government/public sector solutions.

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