Most, if not all, local government departments interact with constituents daily, especially when it comes to accepting and processing various applications, or document requests. This process often requires time and manpower from your government departments that is hard to spare. Far too many local governments have slow-moving, inefficient constituent services that negatively impact constituent-government relations, and slow the response processing time for critical services like permit applications, business registrations, and inspections. Manually managing these services cost governments far too much in staff time and money that could be better utilized elsewhere.
Streamlining your constituent services with government technology is a win-win for everyone involved. Constituents accustomed to the digital convenience of Uber and DoorDash can skip the drive to the clerk’s office and finally file their forms conveniently online. Your locality will save money, eliminate paper waste, and experience a reduction in constituent phone calls and walk-ins, by automating tasks that previously consumed significant man hours.
Here’s everything you need to know about modernizing your constituent services and streamlining operations in your local government.
What are Constituent Services?
Constituent services are vital aspects of a local government that are public-facing and require direct involvement from both your locality as well as your constituents. Citizens receive help and support from their local government through these government programs. Mastering processes pertaining to constituents filing forms like public records requests, business registration, and permit and license applications are key to a streamlined constituent service strategy. Managing issues pertaining to public infrastructure, inspections, government-led economic development, and other facets of governance that pertain to community-members are defined as constituent services as well.
Why is Modernizing Constituent Services Important in Your Community?
Cell phones and the internet have made convenience and immediacy the norm. Why should local governments be held to a different standard than the private-sector when it comes to convenience?
With day-to-day processes like ordering food and paying bills, all being manageable with a few clicks on the phone, modernizing your constituent services to be equally as simple is essential to keeping your constituents happy and saving time for everyone involved. Modernizing constituent services will also help to improve disability inclusion in your community to make your township more equitable.
What Can Your Local Government Learn From Private-Sector Partners? Read on to find out.
What Are Popular Types of Constituent Services
Any of the day-to-day processes in local government that involve the public are considered constituent services.
Here are few of the most important constituent services your government needs to focus on modernizing:
1. Submission of Applications
From construction permit applications to pet licenses, there are thousands of forms submitted to your locality every year. Unfortunately, in many places, constituents not only need to file in person, but can only go during office hours. This also means that municipal workers would need to be on site at your government offices to accept and manually process the forms.
How can your government streamline application submissions?
Making constituents pack up relevant documentation, drive to the relevant government department, and fill out forms in-person is antiquated. Allow them to file paperwork directly from your government website to:
- Allow constituents to file 24/7, 365 days per year: this improves convenience as the offices will be operational online instead of just during office hours
- Increase form completions: governments consistently report increased completion rates when applications are moved online
- Automated back-up of applications: paperwork is stored in the government cloud in real time, preventing any chance of a lost submission. (Here’s more helpful tips about embracing Government Automation)
- Time savings for government workers: no longer will man hours be spent assisting constituents with their applications and or asking them to re-fill in their paper applications when information is submitted missing or illegible. Filing applications online is simple and the documents are automatically stored and accessible to relevant government officials across multiple departments simultaneously.
- Online approval / denial of applications: if a constituent’s application is approved or denied by a government official, they’ll be sent an online notification on the status of their document. If denied, they’ll be informed on why and able to resubmit their application online.
Popular online application options include:
- Short-term, long-time, and vacant properties
- Film licenses
- Boat licenses and boat ramp applications
- Pet licenses
2. Document and Records Requests
Laws like the Open Records Request Act and Freedom of Information Act were passed to increase transparency between the government and constituents. An integral part of a modern constituent services strategy encapsulates ORRA, FOIA, court records, and other popular request types.
How to streamline document requests?
A local government operating system like GovPilot can streamline document requests across the board, regardless of the department or document-type by moving the process online. Constituents simply go to your government website, fill out a few pieces of mandatory information and hit submit. The relevant government officials are notified and receive the request, which they can then approve or deny from a remote location.
The entirety of the documents received and passed along throughout the exchange are stored in the cloud for simple access when a constituent or a government official needs to reference them.
Whether your health department software is inspecting local businesses or the construction department is reviewing a new building, your local government is regularly working with local businesses and constituents when assessing local infrastructure.
Tragedies such as the Surfside condo collapse last year are a firm reminder of the importance of efficient inspection processes for your constituents. Click here to learn about how government health department software helps with inspections and more.
How to streamline government inspections?
Government technology makes it easier to perform inspections for any department and to store the relevant documentation in the cloud for safekeeping. The GovInspect mobile application makes life easier and inspections better by:
Automatically assigning inspections to relevant government workers
To ensure constituent safety when it comes to local infrastructure, you need to make sure inspections across all departments take place as planned. Automatic assignments make sure no inspection slips through the cracks, ever.
Filling out inspection forms from a cell phone
Use of a mobile application makes it easy for your inspectors to fill out paperwork from the cloud while in the field. Relevant government officials and constituents will be notified if it’s a failed inspection so they can take the right steps to get the building approved.
Consider the use of government mobile field devices in your locality and how they can even further simplify inspection processes and limit mistakes made by inspectors who tend to fill out forms hours after inspection.
Automatically storing inspection documentation in the cloud
All inspection documents will be accessible to relevant government officials upon completion of the audit in the government cloud so they can never be lost or destroyed.
For more information about mastering inspections, explore the guide to Building Inspections 101: How to Ensure Public Safety.
4. Fee & Fine Processing
There’s no denying that fees and fines make up a large percentage of most localities’ budgets. For local governments that are inefficient in enforcing code and require constituents to pay fees and fines in-person, you’re missing out on more fee and fine revenue while simultaneously inconveniencing constituents who’d prefer to pay online.
How to streamline government fee and fine processing?
The easiest way to streamline this essential constituent service is to allow constituents to make payments from your government website. With GovPilot, you’ll have the option to choose from an array of available credit card processing integrations, from organizations like authorize.net, CardX, Elavon, and 9 other top options.
Learn more about fee and fine collection best practices in our guide, How to Collect Fees and Fines Online as a Local Government.
5. Status Updates Via GIS Mapping
GIS mapping technology is a goldmine for modernizing local government constituent communications. Geographic Information System technology creates 3D maps of your community to highlight issues or environments that need updates. With just a few clicks, your government officials can update a public-facing 3D map of your locality in real time.
Think of all the useful things you can communicate to your constituents with GIS technology:
- Road closures
- Flood zones
- Voting / congressional districts
- Zoning information
- Areas impacted by a natural disaster
- Public transportation routes
- Points of interest / communal facilities
Constituent services should play a direct role in your strategic planning as a whole. Explore the guide to Government Strategic Planning for more details and learn more about How Local Governments Can Use GIS Maps.
Benefits of Modern Constituent Services
As described above, using digital technology to modernize constituent services comes with countless advantages. Here’s how streamlining constituent services with government technology benefits your locality and your constituents:
Benefits Of Recreation Software For Your Local Government
With improved efficiency, money savings, insightful data, and happier constituents, making the effort to modernize your constituent communications strategy will be a win across the board.
Money is saved as a result of:
- The automation of mindless tasks as they pertain to filing paperwork (saving man hours and requiring less local government employees as a whole)
- A reduction in constituents that need help filling out forms due to the straightforward nature of online modules
- The opportunities for economic development in your municipality will rise and generate more revenue for the community
Time is saved as a result of:
- Constituents being able to file remotely with their laptop or cell phone
- Automation of document collection
- Automated assignment of government projects like inspections, IT tickets, and public works projects to municipal / county workers
Constituents will be happier with your local government as a result of:
- Government forms and applications can be completed anytime, anywhere from their phone or computer rather than having to drive over to the clerk’s office
- Automation / digitization of government workflows will result in quicker document approval and speedier government processes across the board.
- Opportunities for upward mobility are available to citizens when government services provide resources for financial success or save constituents money directly.
- Data pertaining to constituent services (and all aspects of your local government) will be automatically pulled into helpful dashboards for making smart government decisions.
The local quality of life will be improved by streamlining your constituent services in the following ways:
- Convenience of filing paperwork from anywhere
- Simplified online payments for fees & fines
- Online approval / denial of their paperwork (with explicit written insight into how to get approved in the case of a denial)
- Quicker processes and turnaround for businesses, construction, urban transformation, and infrastructure projects as a result of online approval processes and automated assignment of tasks like inspections to government officials.
- Quick approval for constituents’ pet licenses, parking permits, etc.
Happier constituents equate to better approval ratings and a higher chance of re-election for existing and new government officials!
How to Improve Your Constituent Services?
Clearly, the bar has been raised for localities to embrace government technology as it pertains to interactions and workflows involving constituents. No longer are in-person, paper based workflows efficient for getting paperwork filed and assigning tasks to government workers that directly impact constituents.
To modernize your constituent services, you’ll want to consider moving the entirety of your government departments online with government management software. With GovPilot, license and permit applications can be filed online, 24 / 7 and reviewed by government employees immediately. Additionally, for public facing tasks like health and building inspections, govtech applications available for cell phones and other mobile field devices will make processes quicker and more organized. Meanwhile, all of this important documentation and data will be automatically, and instantly stored and backed up in the cloud .
Learn more about how to make your digital transformation by booking a free demo of GovPilot.
What Are Constituent Services?
Constituent services refer to the various forms of assistance, support, and aid that elected officials and their staff provide to the citizens within their municipality. These services address the needs, concerns, and inquiries of constituents, ensuring their voices are heard and their problems are resolved effectively by the local government. Constituent services can encompass a broad range of assistance, including securing government benefits, addressing community issues, advocating for policy changes, and connecting constituents with relevant agencies or resources. Government services make it possible for citizens to experience upward mobility and more equality within your community.
How Can Local Governments Improve Constituent Services?
Local governments can enhance constituent services through several key strategies such as embracing technology and establishing user-friendly online platforms that can streamline communication and service accessibility. Implementing a centralized and intuitive digital hub where constituents can submit requests, complete forms, access information through the government cloud, and engage with their representatives can greatly improve efficiency and convenience. Holding regular town hall meetings, creating informative newsletters, and leveraging social media are effective means to engage the community and keep them informed.
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