Creating Public Dashboards to Improve Transparency in Government

Picture this: you are the leader of a city or state government organization. You want to be transparent with the citizens you serve, but you also don’t have time to update them on key updates every day. What do you do?

Over the past few years, state and local government organizations have made it a point to “become a more transparent government.” This is a great goal to strive for, but many do not know where to begin with transparency.

Does it start with displaying goals on our website? Is it by putting out more pointed news updates & bulletins? Or do we move forward with displaying dashboards?

As more and more organizations have shifted to digital communication, the answer has become clear:

The best way to create a transparent government is to display key updates and information on a publicly facing dashboard.

Let’s discuss the importance of publicly displayed dashboards and some common ideas to start with when creating your first public dashboards.

The Importance of Publicly Facing Dashboards

There are several reasons why publicly facing dashboards are key for transparency.

First, they provide a one-stop shop for citizens to view updates and information from their community. Whether it’s for a town, village, county, city, or state, citizens can easily see what’s new, what’s been accomplished, and what’s upcoming – all in one place.

This also helps government organizations keep their citizens informed without having to rely on other platforms, such as social media, to communicate updates.

Another key reason for publicly displayed dashboards is that they help build trust with the public. In today’s digital world, it can be difficult for people to know what information to trust. But when they see concrete data and updates from their government displayed in one place, it helps build that trust.

Lastly, publicly displayed dashboards also help create accountability within government organizations. When goals and progress are put on display for everyone to see, it holds government officials accountable for their actions – or lack thereof.

Public accountability is a key component of a transparent government – and one that is often overlooked.

Where to Start When Creating Publicly Facing Dashboards

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of publicly displayed dashboards, let’s talk about the best ways to actually create dashboards. Many organizations struggle to find ideas for “what” to display. It’s often difficult to understand what’s important to the public and how much information is too much information.

Here are the top three common pieces of information government leaders display on their publicly facing dashboards.

The Top 3 Items You Receive the Most Calls About

When looking at what to begin displaying on your website, the best place to start is to look at the topics you receive the most outreach on from the public. Outreach could include contact us forms, direct phone calls, or complaint forums. When I ask City Managers the 3 topics they receive the most communication on they are able to name them right away. These topics vary from potholes, sales tax initiatives, homelessness initiatives, and even snow plowing.

Imagine if you could display progress on these topics across your website. This could lead to a decrease in the number of phone calls you receive and will help the public to understand you are working on what they care about most.

Special Projects with High Dollar Amounts

As taxpayers, we always want to know where our money is going and how it is being utilized. If we hear of a large, long-term project going on in our area, we are always curious to get an understanding of how it is progressing and what the benefits are. Examples of projects with high dollar amounts could be infrastructure projects such as roads, building restoration, and other areas of development in the community.

If you can display the progression of the project with quarterly updates as well as the amount of the budget being used, this will likely help put the public’s mind at ease. It may feel uncomfortable to display when certain areas of the project are off track, but this will help to build trust with the public and help to become a more transparent government.

Special Initiatives Attached to Meaningful Change

Lastly, a great place to start with public dashboards is to display special initiatives that are providing a meaningful change in the community. Cities, Counties, and States all over the nation understand the importance of Diversity, Equity, and inclusion and are beginning to build stand-alone strategic plans for this initiative. As the public deeply cares about meaningful change, it is important to display these initiatives on your website and show that you care about the community’s most important issues.

Getting Started with a More Transparent Government

Publicly displayed dashboards are a great way to create transparency in government and engage the public. Start by focusing on these three key areas: the initiatives that cause the most outreach, the projects with high dollar amounts, and initiatives attached to meaningful change. These 3 key areas are a great place to start on your transparency journey and then you can find key areas to expand from there.

Creating a more transparent government doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. By starting with a few key areas, you can begin to build trust and engage with your community. Over time, this will help your organization understand what is important for the public and build trust between citizens and government.

Looking for a better way to collect updates & create publicly displayed dashboards? AchieveIt is trusted by state & local government organizations across the country to connect, manage, & execute their most important plans and initiatives. Whether you are looking to create your very first dashboard or to improve the process around your existing plans & reports, we’d love to help. Our platform was built to help you save on manual labor and progress toward your goals more efficiently and effectively. When you partner with AchieveIt, you can reach your goals AND create a more transparent government.

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