With technology innovation transforming public and private organizations globally, American municipalities and counties can learn a lot from what international localities are doing as well. That’s why, when our team at GovPilot discovered Bloomberg Cities’ guide to digital transformation in European local governments, we saw a lot of great points about how modern local governments in America can innovate as well.
Here are the high-level considerations your local government should consider as you work to modernize your government culture and workflows and embrace digital innovation.
Why Do Local Governments Need to Innovate?
While many municipal and county governments have used the same workflows for decades, innovation in private sector technology has raised the bar for the public sector to innovate with modern infrastructure. Innovation in local government can automate workflows, streamline communication with constituents, and collect data for making informed decisions, making for a more efficient and better received local government.
How Can Local Governments Embrace Modernity & Innovation?
There’s no denying it: technology is the key to local government innovation. From using cloud-based storage to securely back-up data to allowing constituents and businesses to file paperwork from your government website, digital infrastructure is quintessential to a truly modern government.
As you prepare to implement technology in your locality, here are some wise ways to prepare your government employees and get ahead of going digital:
1. Government leadership needs to vocalize their excitement about modernity
History shows that many government workers like to play it close to the vest. They’re oftentimes set in their ways. They’ve been using the same processes since they onboarded years ago. These are the people most inclined to keep things the way they are.
To move the needle and bring about actual change, elected officials and government leaders in a position of power need to embrace and vocalize their support of going digital. Outlining the major benefits and allowing for discourse around moving online within government departments will make it easier to win over public workers and make a digital transformation.
2. Understand the needs of your local government
Government software has been designed to transform workflows in practically every local government department. In order to truly maximize the technology, you’ll need to understand which issues pose the biggest challenges for various government departments.
Local leadership needs to be in tune to the issues that are hindering progress, and can do so by maximizing internal communications. Speak with government officials within various departments and roles to truly understand where you can make positive change with digitized and automated workflows.
Digital communications technology is key to a modern and innovative government. Learn more about how you can streamline intergovernmental and constituent-government communications via the cloud in the Modern Local Government Communications Strategy guide.
3. Understand the needs of your constituents!
The key to keeping your constituents happy and getting re-elected is understanding the issues that matter to them most and taking action to address them. Take action to allow for public discourse and use the top issues mentioned to consider which government software solutions are right for your local government to prioritize first in your digital transformation.
Pro Tip: Report a concern software is helpful technology for constituents to reach out regarding problems in the neighborhood. A simple phone app makes it easy for community members to report anything from a pothole to flooding. Constituents will feel that their voices are being heard and the right government departments will be automatically notified.
4. Diversity in your local government staff
There are naturally various issues that people within different demographic areas (race, income level, etc.) and geographic areas face. A modern government will need to truly accommodate for all of your constituents to innovate. Tapping into people from all walks of life when recruiting government officials and making considerations from various perspectives when it comes to making major policy decisions. Diversity will be key to keeping your constituents happy and innovating in a way that benefits the majority of constituents.
For helpful insight into improving government human resources department workflows, explore our Local Government Recruitment Tips guide.
5. Experiment and take risks!
Far too often, governments fail to innovate as a result of stagnant processes and a general urge to play it safe. In order to be an innovative government, you should experiment with new, modern approaches to municipal / county processes. Taking calculated risks like embracing digital transformation is a wise way to switch things up in a way that’s proven to save time and money time and time again for local governments across the country.
Explore our case studies page to learn about how GovPilot benefitted local governments nationally:
- How Jackson, NJ Made a Full Digital Transformation in Just 6 Weeks
- How Watauga, TX Went From Paper-Based Workflows to Cloud-Based & Automated Filing
- How Big Bear Lake, CA Expanded the Local Economy With Simplified Online Vacation Property Registration
- How Bear County, TX Managing Septic System Issues With Rapid Population Expansion
- How Elizabeth, NJ Let Constituents Voice Their Complaints Via a Simple Mobile App
6. Ease government workers into digital technology (with onboarding support!)
To innovate by moving your government workflows online, you’ll need expert help in onboarding your government workers and making their transition as smooth as possible. Luckily, even more old-fashioned government officials have reported needing just a day or two to feel comfortable using GovPilot modules, and we take pride in offering insightful training sessions and onboarding support members to make your transition online easy and your effort to save time and money as efficiently as possible.
Preparing to Innovate in Local Government
As state and federal governments are pushing government processes online, your local government needs to prepare for a major shift in how your locality operates. To truly innovate and get with the times, you’ll realistically need to make a government digital transformation in the near future. In the meantime, you’ll want to consider which departments / issues need to be prioritized, be transparent and loop government workers into what’s happening and why it will be a positive for them, and consider a government management solution to manage government departments from the cloud.
With GovPilot, customized modules for every government department will allow you to pick and choose the right software solutions for your county or municipality. As our onboarding team makes your transition smooth, the time and money you’ll save will make it easy to scale and bring gov tech to the entirety of your local government.
To learn more, book a free demo.
Modern Government Innovation & Digital Transformation FAQs
1. Why is Modern Government Innovation Intertwined With Technological Advancements?
Let’s face it: we’re in the digital age. The clunky desktop of the past was replaced by the sleek and small iPhone. The encyclopedia was replaced by Wikipedia. Private companies like Google, Facebook, Tesla, and Uber have broken down boundaries to offer convenience to Americans in almost every facet of their life.
The high bar for convenience and a simple online application has left local governments in the dust. No constituent wants to drive to the clerk’s department with 50 documents to get a permit anymore. With government technology, your locality can automate workflows, move document requests and other common application types to a simple online module, and have data and records automatically stored in the cloud.
For specific advice on closing the innovation gap between the public and private sector, explore our guide: What Local Governments Can Learn From Private-Sector Advancements & Partnerships
2. What’s Stopped County & Municipal Governments From Innovating in the Past?
Limited budgets and dependence on antiquated workflows have made it difficult for many local governments to make the innovative switch to digital governance. Non-risk takers in positions of power as well as their employees are accustomed to using their inadequate financials as well as performing their departmental process in a specific, set-in-stone for decades kind of way.
Luckily, American legislation like the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are putting federal grant dollars into the hands of local governments nationally. These bills and other federal and state-level policies are granting localities the opportunity to invest in their digital infrastructure and make the switch online. These innovative bills as well as a proven track record of successful local government digital transformations (as seen in our Case Studies) have made it realistic for municipalities to make the leap online for the first time ever.
3. What Benefits Come With Getting With the Times Technology-Wise?
Filing applications with physical paper and filing systems is slow-moving, inefficient, and inconvenient for the constituent AND administrative worker. With government software, mindless tasks across departments are automated with technology known as robotic process automation (RPA) which saves administrative workers time to allocate towards other important tasks and saves money for your government budget that would have otherwise been spent on man hours. Your online government modules will pay for themselves in no time with more application completions for permit and business registration, less reliance on government workers for getting work done quickly, and a general increase in economic development and the local quality of life.