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How to Increase Local Government Transparency Through Strategic Planning

Since processes went online, local governments have had to adhere to high accountability standards. Citizens expect trust within their residential municipalities, and leaders understand that their effectiveness requires open and honest relationships with their constituents. People who have embraced their role in growing their communities aren’t willing to tolerate a lack of transparency in government. 

A government’s digital capabilities impact its trustworthiness in the eyes of the people it serves. The more easily citizens can find the information they need and communicate with leaders online, the more they perceive their leaders to be trustworthy. Since many communities want to participate in strategic planning initiatives, transparency in public administration has become a leading best practice. 

In This Article

What Is Transparency in Government?

What does transparency mean? Transparency in local government means operational practices, budgetary allocations and other decisions that impact citizens must be visible to the public. With these records, locals can hold their leaders accountable and actively participate in decision-making processes. 

Local government transparency fosters trust in elected officials, improves service delivery and reduces corruption. Legislators must put accountability and transparency at the top of their agendas. 

Innovative technology assists in government transparency with additions such as publicly facing dashboards to provide citizens with information and keep them informed. More municipal governments are using digital services to enhance accountability. Publicly facing dashboards assist with transparency in the following ways:

  • Building trust
  • Creating accountability
  • Communicating messages
  • Encouraging citizen participation

Examples of Transparency in Government

Local governments have focused on transparency and visibility for some time. Some good examples of transparency in government include the following.

  • The Healthy Oregon Act: This law, enacted in 2007, focuses on providing historically underprivileged people with more access to health care services.
  • Open Data DC: This site lets visitors view datasets and other official government information.
  • Email alerts in St. Paul, Minn.: Through St. Paul’s public web portal, citizens can apply for Freedom of Information Act requests and sign up for email alerts about construction projects, community services and more.

The Importance of Local Government Transparency

Technological advancements make it easier for elected officials to communicate and provide real-time updates. For a government to succeed, it must win the trust of the citizens it serves and allow them to engage in planning and operations. Local government transparency has the following benefits.

The Importance of Local Government Transparency
  • Provides citizens with valuable information: The public can view updates and community information, and check on future developments, new ideas and recent accomplishments that affect them. 
  • Builds confidence in your administration: Transparency is the first step to effective two-way communication. When citizens feel your administration is responsive to their needs, they have confidence in your abilities. 
  • Fosters citizen engagement: Efforts to provide constituents with accessible information lays the groundwork for better two-way interactions. Their feedback helps you act in their best interest.
  • Demonstrates integrity: Your citizens will support you through good and challenging times when they can see your plans, implementations and failures.
  • Creates accountability: When information is available, people can hold governments accountable for their actions and lack of effort. 
  • Boosts trust: People trust your administration when they can see the nitty-gritty details for themselves. Local government transparency allows citizens to get information from a verifiable source they can trust. 

How to Increase Local Government Transparency Through Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is a staple in government initiatives. Defining your long- and short-term goals and creating a roadmap to implement them provides your administration with actionable tasks, a priority list and the ability to track successes. You can also identify areas for improvement and adjust your strategy to align with these. 

Transparency enhances your strategic planning operations in many ways, and sharing these plans with the public can have benefits like these.

  • Facilitating report sharing: Providing your citizens with report data and communicating your strategic plan to the public makes them confident, as they can see you’re setting them up to overcome challenges in the future. 
  • Applying citizen feedback: Sharing plans and progress reports is vital to create a culture of transparency. 
  • Communicating your results: Positive results lose their meaning when people aren’t aware of your goals in the first place. People who follow your processes from the planning stage have a vested interest in your success and support your initiatives. 
  • Tracking your processes: Government and citizens can track progress and provide input and support. 
  • Responding to citizen interactions: Citizens can provide actionable feedback on your focus areas, which fosters a cohesive community.
  • Increasing visibility: Communicating your strategic plans gives citizens valuable information on how you allocate resources. They are more comfortable with your decisions when they can see where the money is going. 
  • Cultivating confidence: When citizens have access to your strategic plan, they feel confident in their local government. 

Tips for Improving the Visibility of Strategic Plans

Visibility is about ease of access to valid information. Breaking visibility down into the following actionable steps can help you stay ahead of the curve in your quest for transparency.

  • Strategic planning software: Data in the wrong format can be inaccessible. People need to access your data in one dashboard to get a complete view of your processes. 
  • Publicize progress: Sharing your progress toward achieving your strategic goals fosters accountability in government employees and builds public trust. Celebrating your successes keeps your strategic plan in your citizens’ minds. 
  • Connect with your community: Essential data comes from the public. Ensure your strategic plan factors in two-way communication between government and citizens. 
  • Upgrade your user interface: UI is one of the most critical elements of strategic plan visibility. Your information should be easy to access and understand. 
  • Involve your citizens: Giving local people the opportunity for involvement in the planning phase is one of the most effective ways to build confidence in your strategic plan. 
  • Use progress reports: The public should be able to link your daily progress to your strategic outcomes. Providing progress reports lets them know how your initiatives are doing. 
  • Explain your decisions: Citizens need to understand your choices, why they matter and their roles. Let people know why you’ve made confident choices, and they’re likely to get on board and support you. 

Create a More Transparent Government With AchieveIt

AchieveIt strategic planning software can help local governments enhance transparency and visibility. You can empower your government by measuring plan success, improving organizational effectiveness and reporting key results internally and to the public. 

Create a More Transparent Government With AchieveIt

AchieveIt can help you connect, manage and execute strategic plans and initiatives in the following ways.

  • Connecting plans and initiatives: Plans and initiatives span across all departments so you can present a cohesive strategy to the public. 
  • Creating visibility: Internal administrators, decision-makers and the community can access the strategic plan, track progress and highlight improvement areas.
  • Enabling informed decisions: Real-time data and context allow you to make confident decisions with the latest information.
  • Establishing a single source of information: The details you provide should be authoritative, verifiable and easy to access. 
  • Promoting accountability: Report tracking and effective delegation hold people accountable throughout your organization. 
  • Embedding public-facing dashboards: Citizens can easily access your information with a public-facing interface to enhance user experience and promote transparency. 
  • Establishing uniformity: You can execute your strategic plan in alignment with your current operations. Create and connect unlimited strategic plans on your terms with your structure. 
  • Centralizing updates: AchieveIt automates the update collection process, allowing staff to be more productive and providing real-time dashboards and reports.
  • Sharing progress and results: The public can stay in the loop. With AchieveIt, you can share real-time updates with the community instead of fielding complaints and questions. 

Let’s Do This

Transparency is a fundamental pillar of trust in the public sector. It enables citizens to hold their government accountable and access information on decision-making in their community. Governments must provide their citizens real-time data to foster trust and enhance engagement and support. 

Using AchieveIt can help you increase transparency throughout your operations. The AchieveIt platform provides an automated, intuitive way for organizations to connect and manage their plans and initiatives. Information is more accessible and easier to understand, so citizens can provide valuable input and support your strategic plan. 

Let us help you transform thoughts into actions. Book a demo today to learn more about how AchieveIt can help you connect, manage and execute critical plans and initiatives with integrated plan management. 


Meet the Author  Chelsea Damon

Chelsea Damon is the Content Strategist at AchieveIt. When she's not publishing content about strategy execution, you'll likely find her outside or baking bread.

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