Most (if not all) local government departments interact with constituents every day, especially when it comes to accepting and processing various applications, or document requests. Yet, far too many local governments have slow-moving, inefficient constituent services that negatively impact constituent-government relations, slow the response and processing time for critical services like permit applications, business registrations, and inspections, and cost governments far too much in staff time and money.
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 online. Your locality will save money, eliminate paper, 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.
What are Constituent Services?
Constituent services are aspects of a local government that are public-facing and require direct involvement from both your locality as well as your constituents. 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, economic development, and other facets of governance that pertain to community-members are defined as constituent services as well.
Why is Modernizing Constituent Services so Important?
Cell phones and the Internet have made convenience 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, 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.
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 do during office hours.
How to 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 (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 cloud in real time, preventing any chance of a lost submission)
- 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 online is simple and the documents are automatically stored and accessible to relevant government officials across multiple departments simultaneously.
- Online approval / denial: 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
- Construction permits
- Film licenses
- Special event licenses
- Boat licenses / boat ramp applications
- Pet licenses
- Business registration
- Job applications
- Marriage 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 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 / passed along throughout the exchange are stored in the cloud.
Whether your health department 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.
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. 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: the mobile application makes it easy for your inspectors to fill out paperwork from the cloud. Relevant government officials and constituents will be notified if it’s a failed inspection.
- Automatically storing inspection documentation in the cloud: all inspection documents will be accessible to relevant government officials upon completion of the audit.
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. 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 this 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.
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 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 (because it’s so straightforward with online modules!)
- Time is saved as a result of:
- 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.
- Data pertaining to constituent services (and all aspects of your local government) will be automatically pulled into helpful dashboards for making smart government decisions.
Benefits for Your Constituents:
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 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. Additionally, for public facing tasks like health and building inspections, govtech applications available for cell phones and tablet 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.
- Local Government Accountability: Operating a Truly Ethical Local Government
- Local Government Automation: Benefits of Going Digital
- How Do Online Permitting Systems Work?