ClearGov Partners with City of Decatur to Launch Georgia Transparency Initiative

by Chris Bullock

 

Boston, MA (August 29, 2016)  – ClearGov announced today that it has partnered with the City of Decatur to launch a first of its kind fiscal transparency website in Georgia.  The new site will enable taxpayers to clearly see how Decatur is funded and how this funding is allocated to provide services to its residents.

In conjunction with the launch of Decatur’s transparency website, ClearGov announced today the addition all municipalities in the State of Georgia, including 535 cities and towns, to its platform.

“Having an engaged community has always been important to Decatur as we believe an informed community is an engaged partner with government,” said Peggy Merriss, City Manager of Decatur.  “Providing open access to financial information is critical to building and keeping the public trust, encourages accountability, and improves the understanding of how tax money is spent within the City,” she continued.

ClearGov sources publicly available financial data on municipalities to create easy-to-understand transparency websites for thousands of municipalities across the United States, which are made available to the public for free.  Municipalities can choose to upgrade and enhance their publicly available transparency site with more robust information and provide context through commentary on the figures.

Decatur is the first municipality in Georgia to upgrade its ClearGov page to offer more timely and detailed information to its residents.  The platform is not only designed to provide the public access to historical financials and forward-looking budgets, but also provide a centralized source of financial data and benchmarking analytics to city officials to make more informed policy and budgetary decisions.

“We are excited to partner with the City of Decatur to support their efforts towards increasing transparency and, most importantly, fostering a deeper understanding of how their government works” said Chris Bullock, CEO of ClearGov.  “We hope that other communities in Georgia recognize this new bar that Decatur has set and join Decatur in ClearGov’s growing community of forward-thinking municipalities.”

To visit Decatur’s ClearGov page visit:

http://www.cleargov.com/georgia/dekalb/city/decatur/2015

 

About Decatur, GA

Decatur is a city in, and county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia, and has a population of approximately 21,000 people. Founded in 1822, the city has a traditional small-town atmosphere–and the sophistication and excitement of a college town–along with all the benefits of living in a major metropolitan area.  The city is minutes east of downtown Atlanta, minutes west of Stone Mountain, and is easily accessible via the MARTA rail station.

About ClearGov

ClearGov transforms city and town financial statements into accessible, easy-to-understand infographics to help citizens better understand how their tax dollars are being put to use.  Local governments leverage ClearGov to more clearly communicate their financial performance in an effort to build citizen trust and participation through transparency. ClearGov also provides valuable municipal benchmarking intelligence to help government leaders make more informed and data-driven policy and budgetary decisions while opening the door wider to sharing best practices between municipalities.

ClearGov Launches Colorado Municipal Transparency Initiative

by Chris Bullock

Pueblo West to Showcase ClearGov’s Enhanced Transparency Solutions

Hopkinton, MA (July 18, 2016)  – ClearGov, a leading municipal transparency and benchmarking platform, announced today that is has launched fiscal transparency sites for 353 municipalities in the State of Colorado, including 73 cities, 196 towns and 84 metropolitan districts.  The new tool will enable taxpayers to clearly see how their city, town or district is funded and how this funding is allocated to provide services to residents.  The tool also provides visitors additional context to the revenues and expenditures by benchmarking statistically similar communities.

ClearGov sources publicly available financial data on municipalities to create easy-to-understand transparency websites for thousands of municipalities across the United States, which are made available to the public for free.  Municipalities can choose to enhance their publicly available transparency site with more robust information by upgrading to the ClearGov Plus+ service.  Pueblo West Metropolitan district is the first municipality in Colorado to upgrade its ClearGov page to offer more timely and detailed information to its residents.

“We believe government at all levels has a responsibility to be open and transparent,” said Darrin Tangeman, District Manager.  “ClearGov helps us promote transparency in a way that the average citizen can understand,” he continued.  Pueblo West will integrate ClearGov into a newly revised website to be launched on July 25th.

In addition to transparency tools, ClearGov equips municipalities with back-office benchmarking software to help government officials make more informed and data-driven budgetary and policy decisions.

“Coloradans are known for their innovative government, so we are excited to find a forward-thinking partner in Pueblo West to introduce the ClearGov platform to Colorado,” said Chris Bullock, CEO of ClearGov.  “It is our hope that increased transparency will help drive citizen trust and engagement across Colorado by providing easier access to the inner workings of government.”

 

To explore Colorado municipalities on ClearGov visit:

http://www.cleargov.com/colorado

 

To visit Pueblo West’s ClearGov page visit:

http://www.cleargov.com/colorado/pueblo/metropolitan-district/pueblo-west/2015

Ben Berkowitz Joins ClearGov Advisory Board

by Chris Bullock

CEO of SeeClickFix Provides Extensive Expertise in GovTech Industry

Hopkinton, MA (June 6, 2016)  – ClearGov, a leading municipal transparency and benchmarking platform, announced today that Ben Berkowitz, CEO of SeeClickFix has joined its Advisory Board.  In this role, Ben will advise the ClearGov executive leadership team on its go-to-market strategy and product development.

“Ben Berkowitz is a pioneer in modernizing government technology systems.  We see many parallels in SeeClickFix’s business model and, as such, we are confident his experience will help accelerate our rapid growth and our ability to revolutionize government transparency and efficiency,” said Chris Bullock, CEO of ClearGov.

SeeClickFix is a communications platform for citizens to report non-emergency issues and governments to track and manage their response.   SeeClickFix and ClearGov are both focused on providing cloud-based software solutions to local municipalities that positively impacts our daily lives.

“ClearGov is a unique service provider in fields that I care deeply about – government transparency, accountability and efficiency.  The company’s ability to transform confusing government financial data into easy to use information is impressive and is already helping officials identify opportunities to improve operations, which is a mutual goal,” said Ben Berkowitz.  He pointed to ClearGov’s go-to-market strategy and said “it resonated with the approach we took at SeeClickFix to grow a large citizen and government network. That experience will help me advise ClearGov to similar success and I’m confident that local communities and the public will be better for it.”

About ClearGov

ClearGov transforms city and town financial statements into accessible, easy-to-understand infographics to help citizens better understand how their tax dollars are being put to use.  Local governments leverage ClearGov to more clearly communicate their financial performance in an effort to build citizen trust and participation through transparency. ClearGov also provides valuable municipal benchmarking intelligence to help government leaders make more informed and data-driven policy and budgetary decisions while opening the door wider to sharing best practices between municipalities.

ClearGov announces new Enhanced Demographics Module

by Chris Bullock

At ClearGov we firmly believe that in order to be truly transparent you need to provide context.  Without context numbers can be meaningless, confusing and even misleading.  Citizens who don’t understand the full picture can often misinterpret figures and the factors that are driving budgetary decisions.  These misinterpretations can be spread like wildfire through social media and cause headaches for local governments as they must overcome negative publicity and lost trust.

As we listened to our clients it became apparent that we needed to help them better tell a fuller picture.  Every community is different and local governments must account for these differences in the services they provide.  Helping the public to understand the dynamics that drive their government’s decisions is critical to gaining public support.

With this in mind, ClearGov is excited to announce our new enhanced demographics module.  Linked from the “Demographic Snapshot” on a town’s main ClearGov page, this new module contains four key panels:

Population:  Population dynamics play not only an important role from a planning perspective, but also from a day-to-day perspective.  For instance, towns that have a large “Daytime Population” have an influx of daily commuters that increase the demands (and expense) of Public Safety services.

Household Type:  Household Types not only play a role in the types of services a municipality must provide, but can also be a key factor to attracting new residents (and increasing the tax base).

Economic:  Income dynamics can drive the needs for additional social services on one end of the spectrum and affect the spending power of the schools, for example, on the other end of the spectrum.

Housing:  Home value trends play a key role in attracting new residents and increasing the tax base.

Click here for a live example of this new page.

This new module is now included with ClearGov Premier, our enhanced communications platform available to all municipalities in Massachusetts, California and New York.

ClearGov at TechCrunch Disrupt!

by Chris Bullock

Part of the award for winning TechCrunch Boston was a booth at Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt 2016 – the world’s leading authority on debuting startups.  The company was honored to be showcasing amongst the world’s most innovative startups and entrepreneurs.

TechCrunch Disrupt featured an impressive line-up of speakers including Fred Wilson (managing partner of Union Square Ventures), Tim Armstrong (CEO of Aol), Jeremy Stoppelman (CEO of Yelp) and even Jessica Alba (CEO of The Honest Co.).

The event gave tremendous exposure for ClearGov.  Check out our feature in Computer World from the event.

Onwards and upwards!

ClearGov Chosen for Constant Contact’s Startup Accelerator Program

by Chris Bullock

ClearGov On Fast Track to Revolutionize Government Transparency and Efficiency

HOPKINTON, MA – ClearGov, a start-up based in Hopkinton, MA has just been selected into Constant Contact’s Innoloft small business innovation program. Along with four other startups, ClearGov will take residence in the accelerator’s 30,000 square-foot space at the company’s Waltham headquarters from April 1 through July 1, 2016. While based at the Innoloft, ClearGov will have access to mentors, investors and marketing resources as part of the fourth class in this program.

The Small Business Innovation Program is a first-of-its kind “accelerator” program designed to support entrepreneurs as they solve problems for businesses through the development of new products, features and services.

ClearGov has developed a unique and powerful financial transparency and benchmarking platform for municipalities. The company uses an infographic format to transform complex and confusing municipal financial reports into an easy to understand format for public consumption, and creates powerful analytic and benchmarking tools for government officials.

“We make it easier for the public to see how local government spends and performs in comparison to statistical peers, while helping government officials tap into the power of data and content to build support for initiatives and resources,” said Chris Bullock, CEO and Founder.  “We are revolutionizing government transparency and elevating best practices. This is a great opportunity for our team to work with other entrepreneurs and seasoned mentors as we continue to develop our platform,” he continued.

ClearGov was also recently named to GovTech 100 – the top 100 companies focused on innovation in government services. Founded in June of 2015, financials for all Massachusetts, California and New York municipalities are available for public benefit at www.ClearGov.com. The data is expanded and upgraded for subscribing municipalities and linked to or embedded within their websites.  

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About ClearGov

ClearGov transforms city and town financial statements into easy-to-understand infographics to help citizens better understand how their tax dollars are being put to use.  Local governments leverage ClearGov to more clearly communicate their financial performance in an effort to build citizen trust and participation through transparency.   ClearGov also provides valuable municipal benchmarking intelligence to help government leaders make more informed and data-driven policy and budgetary decisions while opening the door wider to sharing best practices between municipalities.

ClearGov Wins Mass Inno Nights #84!

by Chris Bullock

ClearGov continues its winning streak by taking grand prize at the civic-themed Mass Inno Nights #84.  ClearGov competed against six other startups and was voted audience favorite.  In addition to the ever-lasting glory of victory, the team brought home a number of prizes from Microsoft and other corporate sponsors.

Mass Inno Nights is a monthly event designed to give local entrepreneurs and startups more visibility for their innovative products.

For more info on the event, check out the coverage by the Boston Business Journal and Xconomy.

The Race is On – Vote for ClearGov

by Audrey Hall

 Online voting is getting things fired up for Mass Innovation Nights “84 next week and ClearGov needs your votes.

ClearGov has been selected to participate in this Microsoft sponsored Civic Tech event Tuesday, March 8th which showcases 11 products offering solutions to continuously improve government infrastructure and enhance the lives of citizens.

Of the 11 participants, the four top online vote getters will be invited on stage for a 5 minute presentation of their product at the event. District Hall in Boston will be packed and with your votes, ClearGov will win the opportunity to bring government financial transparency to the forefront.  

Would you step up and provide a vote of support? All you have to do is click on the link below. Once you click on the link, click on “Vote Here” (under “Mass Innovation Nights 84”) and then scroll all the way down to ClearGov and click on the red button that says “Love it!”

http://mass.innovationnights.com/events/mass-innovation-nights-84

Innovation Nights hosts product launch parties and networking events. Join us next Tuesday, 3/8/16 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM for #MIN84 in District Hall – 75 Northern Avenue in Boston.

Spread the word and the link before the deadline (Monday, 3/7/16 at noon) and thanks for the support. We’ll be back with a full report!

Retooling for the Massachusetts Community Compact Initiative

by Audrey Hall

ClearGov Helps Municipalities Achieve Best Practices Goals

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s first executive order launched the Community Compact Initiative (CCI), which encourages towns and cities to voluntarily enter into formal agreements with the administration to work towards best practice goals. When a community signs up it has to agree to implement at least one “best practice” which is selected from a variety of subject areas. Municipalities earn points along the way which can translate into support and funding opportunities.

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito has met with cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth to adopt best practices in the categories of Education, Energy and Environment, Financial Management, Housing and Economic Development, Information Technology, Regionalization/Shared Services, Transportation and Citizen Safety. A primary focus of these best practices is information – not just to collect it or have it, but to make it readily available and accessible, to engage citizens – to achieve a higher level of transparency. What exactly is transparency and how is it achieved?

If information is available but difficult to sort through, navigate and access, that’s not transparency. If information is presented in technical terms filled with unfamiliar acronyms and jargon that’s not transparency. When information is provided out of context without explanation of twists, turns, spikes and declines, that’s not transparency.

Putting mounds of data out there just to say it’s there is not transparency and it can be counterproductive. It can confuse and frustrate the user while generating more questions, fueling doubt and eroding trust. Genuine transparency requires clarity. It comes from the facilitation of understanding.  Transparency means anticipating the users’ expectations and proactively meeting them. The data has to be easy to navigate, presented in laymen’s terms, in context of the larger story and accompanied by educational information which anticipates and addresses potential questions, and as a best practice, welcomes citizen engagement.

There’s a big difference between superficial transparency and genuine transparency. Genuine transparency requires user friendly, consumable data presented with clarity, in context and with opportunities for engagement. That’s what ClearGov’s unique transparency platform is all about.

Lt. Gov. Karen Polito signs the Town of Framingham’s Community Compact supporting their transparency project through ClearGov 

When Framingham became the 143rd community to sign a compact agreement, CFO Mary Ellen Kelly said “We can get to real transparency quickly using ClearGov, and it also translates into points we can earn in the Compact Initiative. It’s not just the transparency, she said, it’s in such a compelling, user friendly format which will make the information so clear for our residents.” ClearGov helps everyone have a more informed and empirically accurate conversation.

ClearGov.com is the only platform which has transformed complex and confusing financial statements and key metrics for all Massachusetts communities into easy-to-understand, interactive infographics.

Municipal officials can use the “Claim My Page” feature to provide local customization to the page, respond to public inquires and request a full demo. When municipalities subscribe the data is expanded, updated, and the pages are embedded or linked to the municipalities’ websites. Powerful benchmarking tools are also provided to municipal officials for their exclusive use.

ClearGov’s powerful transparency and benchmarking data platform is helping communities achieve their best practice goals, earn points as part of their Community Compact agreements and become more efficient, productive service providers. The cumulative effect will be seen throughout the Commonwealth.

For more information go to www.ClearGov.com and claim your page!