Government Transparency 101: What, Why and How

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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.

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

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

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 Rock Solid 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

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 Rock Solid 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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