According to the National Survey of County Elected Officials (2012), 51% feel pressure from their constituents for greater transparency in conducting county business.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) recently published an article on how Hill County, Texas, stepped up to comply with the Texas Transparency Project to provide even more online services and expand government transparency across their state.
The Texas Transparency Project “requires government agencies to track state spending so constituents see how funds are dispersed” (NACo).
How to Easily Extend Transparency
Hill County’s solution to providing local government transparency, while satisfying the needs of those in their jurisdiction, was to create an enterprise content management system (ECM) that could be used to streamline processes across departments, leverage existing investments, and offer fast and easy access to information.
According to the article Hill County was previously using a disparate government software system, and dealing with a shrinking budget, which was leaving county officials struggling to even maintain regular services.
“Prior to ECM, document retrieval for some records could take hours, explained Sharon Camarillo, IT director for Hill County. Staff typed the same information into different systems and copied paper files multiple times so each department could find information. This tied up staff with duplicative efforts and expensive paper costs” (NACo).
With their new enterprise software system, the county’s documents are all stored in a central location with instant access to information no matter the department or location.
Now that data is easier to locate and manage, Hill County’s hope is that constituents will soon also have easy access to all public records, relieving that constant pressure to provide more transparency in local government. “We’ll generate revenue while providing transparency,” shared Camarillo as she discussed their plans to charge for other online services they will now be able to provide with their updated system.
“In the future, the county plans to use its ECM system to create an entirely paperless government with additional Web and mobile applications, providing anytime, anywhere access for all staff and the constituents they serve”(NACo).
NC counties have experienced similar results with the North Carolina Property Tax System (NCPTS). NCPTS is also an enterprise software system which automates manual tasks, integrates departments, and eliminates paper usage.
In Guilford County alone, NCPTS allows their staff to quickly and easily make corrections to assessments, taking their processing time down from six weeks to under ten minutes, saving them time and money.
If your county is one that is also strained to provide more transparency or more services, an updated software system may be just what you need!