The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a survey that calculates how trustworthy the public perceives their governments to be. In 2018, the United States dropped from a 75/100 to 71/100. While the US is still ranked #22 across the globe, governments should want to see this number improve rather than a decline over the years.

This means that Americans are having trouble trusting their government more than ever before. And in a world where bribery, scams, scandals, and secretive movements in governments occur, it makes sense why Americans are so distrustful.

Change can still happen, governments can make waves to building trust with their constituents. With more government transparency, even on the side of smaller local municipalities, that damaged trust can absolutely be mended.

How Can Governments Achieve Transparency?

By working to understand why your municipality should build processes with transparency in mind. If you work with residents, employees and businesses to build a better understanding of what transparency means to them together you can build a more trustworthy government a plan actions that will improve the CPI one government at a time.

It’s time to reassess what government transparency really means in 2019. Building an eco-system with disconnected parts will eventually make the entire system fall apart. Governments and residents need to be connected in order to build trust in each other.

Let’s take a look at exactly what government transparency is and what local governments can do to be more transparent with residents.

What is Government Transparency?

Government transparency is essentially a government’s known obligation to be as open, accountable, and honest with its residents as possible. This honesty involves being open about how the government is conducting business and using resident’s tax dollars to improve the area that it governs.

Why is it important?

Government transparency is important because it is ultimately the government’s job to serve its constituents as efficiently as possible. Sometimes, that involves a government allowing itself to be scrutinized. If a government is clear about the processes it uses to make decisions, as well as what those decisions, then governments and residents can work together to better serve the community that the government is working to protect.

What Can Local Government Do to Be More Transparent?

Before we get into how governments can make their information more readily available, let’s look at what local government can do to effectively make their agencies more transparent:

  • Through conducting extensive training on all aspects of the local government, as well as on the government transparency initiatives that are happening in state and federal governments.
  • By counseling agencies within the local government on questions arising from transparent government initiatives.
  • Through developing guidance for reports, regularly and publicly reviewing reports, and creating a summary of reports that are extremely easy for citizens to access for free.
  • Through issuing guidance for improvement based on reviews of reports and doing so publicly and with resident involvement.
  • By developing and promoting best practices within the local government.
  • By executing meetings and broadcasts of transparency initiatives.
  • Through educating the public about how government transparency works and making it easy for the layman to understand.
  • By participating in local, state, federal, and international transparency events.

How Can Local Governments Facilitate Transparency and Information Access for Residents?

There are a few ways that local governments can improve their transparency, but the main way to do so is to simply be more up-front about new changes that are occurring and making it easier for residents to access this information. Governments should be working to facilitate proactive communication, openly requesting resident feedback on changes, and providing extremely easy access to documents and information with self-service digital channels. Doing this doesn’t have to be difficult, no matter how archaic a municipality’s digital archives may be.

A great solution to this is with the CitySourced mobile platform and Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) System. We help governments gather data and create a centralized location for all resident interactions, with quick access to information and visibility into activities of residents or government from either side.

Ultimately, governments need to build a system of tools that send data that is both bi-directional and communicates with one another. We talk a lot about interoperability between systems because this is a great way to connect all the data a government collects. If your systems can’t integrate with each other you’re leaving valuable data in a silo that doesn’t help you build trust or transparency.

Using multiple systems across different departments makes for a failed system. A lot of times, it can even be more costly in addition to being ineffective at connecting residents and their local governments.

Even governments that go out of their way to be as transparent as possible aren’t quite hitting the mark when it comes to facilitating that transparency. If the government systems do not communicate properly or send information back and forth, that information can be lost and difficult to access on the user’s end. Here are 6 surefire ways to accelerate an interconnected government.

When it comes down to it, data can get lost and time will be wasted on trying to open ten different programs to perform a single task or find information about a recent government change.

You can build your citizen engagement with the CitySourced mobile app. This app houses many municipality functions that feed into a robust back-end CRM and integrates out-of-the-box with a variety of asset management systems (AMS). Through this eco-system, all departments responsible for the asset and customer service sides are informed, then the resident will receive a notification about status changes or updates from their government.

Transparency really doesn’t have to be such a complicated venture. There are 5 factors to consider when deploying a mobile civic app. Sign-up for our mobile civic app email course to get a walkthrough of each factor you should consider when deploying a mobile app for your government.

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You can also set up newsletters and provide a space for residents to engage in surveys, find places to vote within your municipality, and make payments for government-related services through your app.

Did these steps help you be more transparent? Tell us what you think about local government transparency in the comments below.

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