Talkin’ ‘Bout “Y” Generation

by Michelle Martineau

How savvy municipalities are meeting Millennials where they are (and catching some Zs in the process)

“People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)”

Released 50+ years ago, the song “My Generation” by the British rock band the Who was an anthem to the youthful angst of a burgeoning class of Boomers who, at the time, couldn’t envision getting old, let alone retiring. Like it or not, it happens to most of us. And, as they say, “it beats the alternative.”

In fact, at this very moment, approximately 40 percent of the municipal workforce is within 5 years of retirement. That means many local governments, like businesses in the private sector, need to brace for what’s sure to be a seismic generational shift. And, the most savvy municipalities are getting a head start by meeting “Y” Generation (AKA: millennials) where they are and catching some Zs in the process.

According to the Pew Research Center, anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of Generation Z (the oldest of whom turn 22 this year). While there are myriad social, political, and economic factors that distinguish Boomers and Gen Xers from their Y and Z brethren, technology has to be among the biggest differentiators.

Consider this: the “World Wide Web” only became publicly available on August 6, 1991 — a fact that positions the birth of the Internet as a decidedly Millennial event. Generation Y literally came of age alongside the Internet, spending most of their years — formative and otherwise — online. It only makes sense then, that if you want to engage Millennials you need to meet them where they live (in cyberspace). And, that’s a reality that many civic leaders across the country are starting to embrace.

At ClearGov, we talk to local officials all day every day and we sometimes hear complaints that young Americans aren’t as politically engaged or civic-minded as previous generations. We couldn’t disagree more, and a recent survey by GenForward and NBC News also begs to differ. The poll shows that Millennials are not only committed to affecting change, they’re prepared to work for it. Six in 10 think they have the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in politics. And 63 percent think that by participating, they can make a difference.

So, where’s the disconnect? The short answer is that it’s online. Looking for Millennials at a town meeting is like looking for goldfish in a sandbox: it’s not their thing. They grew up on the Internet, they expect information to be online and at their fingertips. And, frankly, they’re suspicious if it’s not.

So, where’s the disconnect? The short answer is that it’s online. Looking for Millennials at a town meeting is like looking for goldfish in a sandbox: it’s not their thing. They grew up on the Internet, they expect information to be online and at their fingertips. And, frankly, they’re suspicious if it’s not.

Meanwhile, their Gen Z siblings (and offspring!) grew up clutching an iPhone in their tiny little hands. If you really want to have a meaningful exchange with anyone born in the last three decades or so, you need to do it on the small screen (a laptop, an iPad, or a mobile device).

Millennials are accustomed to change and they want to be part of the solution. You just have to give them ways to get involved and invite them to join the conversation. Try this:

• Live-stream your town meetings on Facebook.

• Post your local budget in a readable format, one that’s not only accessible on a cell phone, but decipherable.

• Pitch capital improvements on social media and then drive young residents to online project pages where they can get more details and subscribe to receive automatic updates.

Today, forward-thinking civic leaders are tasked with governing in a dynamic and hyperconnected world that has no precedent. But, there are plenty of tools out there to help local officials navigate these uncharted waters and reach out to their younger constituents who are genuinely interested in how local government works and may actually want to play an active role.

Turnkey platforms like ClearGov, for example, make it easy for municipalities to share demographics, financials, project data, and more in an interactive online format that’s accessible and easy for everyone — from Boomers to Gens X, Y, and Z  — to understand. You can get started by claiming your free profile here.

Meanwhile, the sooner you connect with “Y” Generation the better. The Millennial Action Project, a nonpartisan group that supports young people in politics, says that more than 800 millennials ran for state legislative seats in 2018. More than a third, approximately 275, won. If you’re not actively building your online presence, you’re missing out on a tremendous pool of talent that’s eager to be engaged.  Plus, they’re the only ones who can help you fix that weird thing that keeps happening with your cell phone. :)

5 Easy Ways to Prep for Your Annual Budget Reviews Using ClearGov

by Michelle Martineau

With the ClearGov platform, you’ve got a powerful tool at your disposal to help prepare for your annual budget review, and really any meeting (either internal or public-facing) in which you’ll be discussing finances, capital projects, or short- and long-term planning. In addition to providing taxpayers with an easy-to-understand, visual overview of your finances, your ClearGov Transparency Center can be a valuable resource for public officials engaged in strategic planning. Here are five ways you can leverage ClearGov to help get everyone on the same page and build valuable consensus.

1. Publish your proposed budget to your ClearGov site

It’s a best practice to ensure that your Fiscal Transparency Center always displays the most current data available. In fact, prior to your budget review meetings, it’s a good idea to publish your proposed budget to your ClearGov site, that way key stakeholders and even residents can follow the process as it progresses. Keep in mind, you control access to your numbers so you decide who sees what when. You can share the proposed budget internally as you prep and then open it up to the public once you’re ready to present. Just be sure to add commentary clearly indicating that the numbers shown are proposed and not yet approved. Your ClearGov client success manager can help you get your most up-to-date information uploaded to the site in a timely manner — just give us 48 hours notice and we’ll make it happen.

2. Quickly generate charts for presentations

Why recreate the wheel in Excel when you can generate compelling charts and graphs right from the ClearGov platform with a simple click? With ClearGov Insights, you have the flexibility to easily export powerful visuals to include in your presentation decks. And, if you’re using ClearGov Budgets, you have access to historical trends, forecasted projections, and additional dynamic charts to help inform both short- and long-term budget impacts. That’s important intelligence you can then share with key stakeholders, so everyone can make better informed budgetary decisions.

3. Provide context through commentary

Numbers only tell part of the story, but just a few lines of supporting text can add valuable missing context — like explain a shortfall or call attention to savings. For example, if revenue looks lower over time because the past three years included non-recurring revenue to fund a project, you can easily annotate that. Or, say you need an investment in technology upgrades, you can use commentary to justify increased expenditures in that particular category. Think of it this way: ClearGov infographics provides the what and when, and your commentary provides the why and how.

4. Use the Projects App to explain capital improvement plans and progress

If you haven’t used ClearGov’s new Projects app yet (it’s free with your Insights subscription), now’s a good time to get your feet wet — especially if you’re looking to fund capital outlays. The easy-to-use application allows you to quickly create and publish detailed project pages to your ClearGov site. These template-driven pages take only minutes to populate and post, and enable you to share proposed timelines, planning documents, budgets, and more in one centralized location. It’s a great way to educate the public and build consensus around proposed capital initiatives like new construction, renovations, and more. And, perhaps best of all, you don’t need to be a webmaster to create a project page. The process is easy and intuitive and you can empower any member of your team to post. Finally, once the page is live, visitors can subscribe to receive automated updates. You can also opt to invite visitors to ask questions or post comments in a moderated forum you control. Want help getting started? Your ClearGov client success manager is happy to show you the ropes.

5. Drive traffic to your Fiscal Transparency Center

You probably already have a link to your Transparency Center on your website (if you don’t, please reach out to your client success manager), but there are other ways you can get the word out to constituents about this valuable resource. Use every available channel, including email communications, newsletters, and social media. In fact, consider pinning a post with a link to your Transparency Center at the top of your Facebook and Twitter pages, especially as it gets closer to the date of your annual budget review. At budget presentation, be sure to include one or more slides that references the Transparency Center URL. It should also appear on any printed materials. The more people (residents, business owners, local press) you can drive to your site, the fewer inquiries you’ll have to field down the road. Plus, the whole idea behind transparency is to better engage and inform your electorate, so try to promote your ClearGov page every  opportunity you get.

We hope you find these tips helpful as you prepare for and navigate your next budget meeting. As always, please reach out if you have questions or concerns. We’re here to help!

USA Today Features ClearGov Among Best Places to Work in Boston

by Michelle Martineau

(Psst … We’re hiring! Come join our winning team!)

We’re honored to announce that ClearGov has been featured in USA Today and recognized by the compensation, culture, and career monitoring website Comparably.com as a Best Place to Work in 2019. It seems the “ClearGovernors” (aka: our employees) have spoken and they had nothing but nice things to say.  

Over the last year, workers from across the Boston region anonymously rated their employers on the Comparably website. After answering a series of over 50 structured workplace questions in core culture categories — including compensation, leadership, professional development, work-life balance, perks, and benefits — survey participants ranked ClearGov as one of the top 15 places to work.

It turns out “Making democracy work better” is more than just an awesome tagline, it’s a fun, meaningful, and rewarding way to put your talents to the test. For a small startup that’s barely four years young, ClearGov has already made a name for itself as a leader in municipal technology and a really great place to work. Last year, we doubled our client base, grew our partnership network, launched two new products, and welcomed new talent to our team — expanding our employee base by 150 percent. And, we’re still growing strong.

“It takes more than competitive wages, good benefits, and foosball to attract and retain top talent,” says ClearGov CEO Chris Bullock. “We’re pleased to have created a positive work environment and inclusive culture that rewards creativity, passion, and innovation.”

If you’re interested in working at one of the best places in Greater Boston, with the most talented team in gov tech, a frequently awesome playlist, and all the chocolate you can eat, I know just the place. And they’re hiring. Join us!

 

ClearGov Debuts Powerful New Project Communications Tool for Local Governments

by Chris Bullock

Mission-driven startup introduces affordable, scalable way to keep interested residents informed about ongoing community projects

Maynard, MA (3/14/19) – ClearGov, a leader in municipal technology, announced today it has introduced an easy new way for local governments and school districts to inform residents about capital projects and other important community initiatives.

The new ClearGov Projects application, which comes free with the ClearGov Insights platform, allows town and school officials to quickly create and publish project pages that not only shine a spotlight on capital development, but also help to spread the word far and wide. These template-driven pages take only minutes to populate and post, and allow agencies to share project timelines, documents, budgets, and more in one centralized location.

While today’s taxpayers have a vested interest in capital projects like new construction and sewer and road improvements, they don’t have a lot of time — especially at the end of a long work day when most public meetings take place (and where projects like these are typically discussed). And, with fewer beat reporters tracking local town council events, it’s increasingly difficult for citizens to stay informed about the issues they care about most.

ClearGov CEO Chris Bullock says, “ClearGov Projects gives local governments a new 24/7 communications channel that makes it easy for interested residents to get educated, updated, and provide feedback or ask questions about a highlighted project.” According to Bullock, once an agency creates a page for their project they can easily publish it to ClearGov, syndicate it to their website, and share it on social media to drive engagement.

Residents can also follow a project to keep tabs on the latest developments by simply visiting the page and clicking on the Subscribe to Project Updates button. Once subscribed, they’ll automatically receive email notifications every time information on the page gets updated. If project deadlines change or progress stalls, project page followers will be among the first to know.

The Village of Rye Brook in Westchester County, New York is already leveraging the innovative project communications tool to promote critical, public-funded construction activities in their community. Rye Brook is among the first municipalities in the country to go live with a ClearGov Project Page. An early adopter of ClearGov Insights, Rye Brook launched the state’s first infographic-based Fiscal Transparency Center back in March of 2017. Since then, another 17 New York communities have followed suit launching centers of their own, powered by ClearGov.

Last October, the Village kicked off a year-long construction project to replace its existing 80-year old public works facility with a modern new complex better equipped to meet the community’s needs. The serendipitous release of the new ClearGov Projects app gave Village Administrator Chris Bradbury an easy new way to keep Rye Brook residents informed about how the project is progressing. “Using ClearGov Projects,” he explained, “I was able to quickly publish a page that housed everything related to the new facility, including detailed blueprints and current and projected expenditures. We expect that our ClearGov Project Page will not only help keep our community better informed and engaged, but will also save my team countless hours of effort that would otherwise be required to respond to questions from our constituents.”

The page, accessible via the Village’s Transparency Site, includes pictures, a feasibility study, and other planning documents, as well as a frequently updated timeline detailing key project milestones. Bradbury says the page is particularly useful for residents who live in close proximity to the construction site and are likely to be most affected in the coming months.

Project pages also include an optional comments feature which enables page owners to invite visitors to ask questions or post feedback in a moderated forum. It’s a good opportunity for public leaders to uncover issues they perhaps weren’t aware of, and also to potentially identify previously silent supporters who can help champion a project and build consensus and momentum. ClearGov CEO Chris Bullock adds, “it’s also a great way to get a heads up on any public misconceptions so you’re not blindsided at your next public hearing.”

About ClearGov

ClearGov is on a mission to build a community of transparent, data-driven, modern governments. ClearGov provides a full suite of turnkey, cloud-based solutions to help local municipalities drive transparency, streamline budgeting, and better engage residents.  ClearGov’s award-winning platform is currently used by hundreds of communities across 23 different states.

PRESS CONTACT:

Jena Skivington
585.507.5733
jskivington@cleargov.com

Why District Officials Need to Up Their Budget Game Now for 2020 — and Beyond

by Michelle Martineau

A new Education Week article shines a spotlight on the battle over state budget surpluses

If January and February are any indication, 2019 promises to be another volatile year for school districts as teachers nationwide hit the streets to demand raises and other benefits. Last month, tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers kicked things off, marching downtown and picketing for six school days before reaching a deal with officials. Two weeks ago, Denver public school teachers went on strike for the first time in 25 years. And, this week, teachers in Oakland, CA headed back to the picket line demanding  smaller classes and better pay.

This all occurs on the heels of the grassroots “Red for Ed” movement that began in Arizona and quickly gained traction last year, and it shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. Now, new analysis conducted by Education Week points to budget surpluses in more than half the states across the country. But the question is, will states opt to dole out big dollars for education or err on the side of caution and tuck money away for a rainy day?

If you’re a district leader, now’s a good time to bring your A-game to the budget negotiations table. 

If you’re a district leader, now’s a good time to bring your A-game to the budget negotiations table. The clearer you can make your case to committee, council, executive board, teachers, parent groups, and the public at large the better position you’ll be in to procure the funding you need to improve outcomes.

One way to do that is to invest in tools that tell your budget story in the clearest possible way for both internal and external stakeholders. For example, rather than cobbling together spreadsheets and printouts to justify your requests, consider a more visual strategy that lays out all your data (not just the line items, but the trends, demographics, and enrollment numbers that back up your requests) in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand.

ClearGov Budgets includes access to historical trends, forecasted projections, and simple charts to help inform both short- and long-term budget impacts. You can even create multiple budgets to easily and quickly compare various what-if scenarios. Additionally, ClearGov dynamically generates easy-to-understand graphics as you go, so you can identify at a glance areas that are consistently under or over budget. This is precisely the kind of visualization that can help you effectively gauge the impact of today’s adjustments on tomorrow’s revenues and expenditures — and make smarter, evidence-based decisions for your district.

With tools like ClearGov, you also have the ability to compare your district’s data to others with similar enrollments or that serve similar student populations. Traditionally, benchmarking analyses like these can be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to conduct, but ClearGov automates the process making it easy for you to identify relevant peer groups so you can quickly see how your district stacks up on any given line item. That’s valuable intelligence you can use to build your case for increasing or decreasing your spend in key areas.

Once your budget is final, you can even publish it to your ClearGov transparency site with the click of a button. And, there are numerous reasons to make your district’s fiscal data accessible to the public. Among the chief reasons to consider posting budget actuals to your public-facing profile is to build community consensus. An informed electorate can be your biggest asset, generating the support you need to nudge state officials to act on your behalf. According to a recent poll released by Loyola Marymount University, the overwhelming majority of Los Angeles residents — nearly 90 percent — supported the recent teachers strike. It’s always better when the public’s got your back.

Understandably, budgeting for new business tools often takes a back seat to curriculum, instruction, and building upgrades. But in this case, your ability to budget accurately and forecast with precision is an essential means to a critical end. And, a very modest investment in smart, cloud-based solutions may just help you build a more compelling argument to persuade local legislators to fund the initiatives that matter most to your community. These tools also serve to get school executives working off the same page and more efficiently so you can spend more time on budget strategy and less time scrambling to pull the numbers together. In the end, it’s all about funding better outcomes and the best way to ensure that is to make sure everyone understands exactly what’s on the table.

It’s Official: The OPEN Government Data Act is Now the Law of the Land

by Michelle Martineau

The OPEN Data Act passed the US House and Senate with rare bipartisan support

What does it mean for local agencies and the public at large?

On January 14, 2019, President Trump signed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking (FEBP) Act into law. A key component of FEBP is the OPEN Government Data Act, which passed the US House and Senate back in December with rare bipartisan support.

This new legislation has been years in the making and codifies key pieces of President Obama’s 2013 Open Data Policy Memorandum. In addition to the broader initiative to improve government transparency and drive citizen engagement, the OPEN Government Data Act also promises to increase the accessibility and usability of government information for other key stakeholders including journalists, academics, and entrepreneurs in both the public and private sector.

OPEN is actually an acronym that stands for Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary, and under the new law federal agencies are now required to publish all non-sensitive government information online in a machine-readable format. That’s good news for everyone, especially researchers and developers looking for data to fuel innovation.

For the record, the “non-sensitive government data” we’re talking about generally includes information on weather, traffic, census, budgets, and more. More importantly, it’s data that taxpayers actually paid to develop and fund. In short, the public financed this information, and now the law says they’ll finally have free and easy access to it.

Making government data not only accessible, but machine readable is key because it means it’s searchable and therefore more actionable.  A 2017 letter of support for the legislation signed by more than 80 businesses, industry groups, civic organizations, and transparency advocates argued that opening up data to people in both the public and private sectors would effectively drive development of “new tools and services that address some of the country’s most pressing economic and social challenges.”

Until now, many government agencies simply scanned documents and posted PDFs to their website to comply with Federal Open Information Act (FOIA) requirements. While this checked the transparency box, it didn’t make the data easily searchable or particularly useful. With this new legislation, that’s about to change — for good.

While the new guidelines specifically apply to federal agencies, the implications are far-reaching. Perhaps the most important takeaway is that open and transparent government is no longer merely aspirational. For democracies here and abroad, government data is increasingly open by default. And, there’s ample evidence to show that this global sentiment is being embraced at the local level as more cities and towns endeavor to establish and hone an online presence to better engage busy constituents.

In fact, over the last three years ClearGov has built free public-facing pages for 20,000+ local governments showcasing government data in easy-to-understand infographic-style profiles. And, hundreds of towns and school districts in 20 different states have since claimed their profiles, expanding them to include valuable commentary and relevant peer comparisons. Some are even building out project pages that enable residents to view budgets, blueprints, timelines and more for capital improvements, new construction, and other initiatives. Residents can even subscribe to receive updates automatically every time the data changes.

While OPEN data is now officially the law of the land, it’s not likely the transparency police will be enforcing it any time soon. However, it does set the bar for clear governance — and there’s no going back. It’s time to start sharing public-owned data with the public, and making it easy to understand and actionable.

Three Steps to Set the Stage for Better Transparency

by Michelle Martineau

An interview with Terry Mutchler, transparency hall of famer

NOTE: In November of 2018, the digital news publication Route Fifty published an edited version of the following commentary by ClearGov CEO Chris Bullock. With the federal OPEN Government Data Act officially signed into law just last week, this seems like the perfect time to revisit Chris’ timely interview with Terry Mutchler, transparency advocate and former executive director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records.

The demand for transparency in government is as old as our democracy. In fact, the founding fathers spelled it out in the Declaration of Independence:

“He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.”

If you skip past the section of the declaration that you had to memorize as a kid, you’ll find a less-quoted list of grievances against King George III. That’s where Thomas Jefferson calls out colonial governors for clandestinely moving the meeting sites of assemblies and limiting access to public records.

Fast forward 242 years and transparency advocates like Terry Mutchler continue to fight the powers that be in the revolutionary pursuit of public access. And — given the current climate of distrust in our democracy and the proliferation of “fake news” — the need for an informed and educated citizenry has arguably never been greater.

Fatiguing them into compliance

Mutchler, the former executive director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records (OOR), has made transparency her life’s mission. And, in a recent interview, the newly minted hall of famer summarized the drive toward open government this way, “If ‘fatiguing them into compliance’ doesn’t describe today’s environment, nothing does.”

She was recently inducted into the National Freedom of Information (FOI) Coalition’s State Open Government Hall of Fame. It’s a long and cumbersome title for the annually bestowed national honor, but it’s fitting when you consider that there’s nothing concise or easy about getting government agencies to show you their checkbooks.

No one knows that better than Mutchler who ten years ago single-handedly built Pennsylvania’s independent office of open records from the ground up. Before she even had a budget or a building, she set up a makeshift office in the back of a dismantled library and, with a copy of the state’s new open records law in hand, began interviewing stakeholders and writing the policies and procedures that paved the way for the level of transparency the state currently enjoys.

Mutchler is a former AP award-winning journalist and a current practicing partner at Mutchler Lyons, the nation’s first firm focused exclusively on transparency law. She’s also something of a self-proclaimed openness geek as evidenced by her ability to quote lesser-known passages from the Declaration of Independence at the drop of a hat.

We asked for her expert take on the Sisyphean task of nudging local officials into compliance. Here’s what she had to say about where municipalities stand today and where they should focus their energies for the long-term.

Reframing the argument: Imagine you’re a credit counselor

Sure, transparency is the bedrock of democracy, but to frame the idea in a way that makes modern sense, Mutchler likens the role of municipal official to that of a credit counselor. She explains, “the first thing a credit counselor tells their client is that you can’t budget or make sound financial decisions for your family unless you actually know where you stand.”

As keepers and executors of the public purse, it behooves local leaders to get their constituents to understand what resources they actually have and how those resources are distributed. Until you get everything out on the table, you can’t effectively plan ahead. Yet, there’s often resistance on the part of municipalities to pony up the receipts when asked.

As a practicing attorney, Mutchler attests to the fact that few laws are as emotionally fraught as right-to-know laws. That’s because people on both sides go in with their guard up. The town clerk thinks the constituent is there to check up on him or her. And the constituent thinks the clerk is trying to hide something. So, the relationship tends to be adversarial from the get-go, but it doesn’t have to be.

Teaching officials to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with citizens, not toe-to-toe

When Mutchler first started at the OOR, she and her modest staff of three managed to conduct some 1500 presentations across the state. She says that every time they went into a town to train municipal officials the amount of record requests actually declined.

Mutchler suggests there are three steps clerks can take now to reduce friction and set the stage for better transparency:

1. Strip emotion from the equation: While a record request may feel personal, it’s not. The requestor wants to see the township’s checkbook, not yours. When you remove emotion and err on the side of openness, you immediately reduce the friction. She advises clerks to adopt a presumption of openness, meaning that they should presume the record is open and then check to see if there’s a legitimate reason to withhold it.

2. Formalize the request process: One way to strip the emotion from the task is to make it routine. Create a structure and put forms in place so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you get a request.

3. Put it online: Once you’ve built a form and a process, put everything on your website — including your records. The more information you can make accessible, the less you’ll have to manually track down. Plus, you’ll have fewer requests to field if you empower citizens to effectively serve themselves.

All of this may sound overwhelming to public officials who are already overworked and underpaid, but there are actually new ways for municipalities to be more transparent with their records without incurring additional work.

Mutchler says there are companies out there now who can help local governments do the heavy lifting. Turnkey platforms like ClearGov, for example, make it easy to share financials with constituents in a way that’s not only easy-to-understand but also helps to drive public trust, understanding, and engagement. According to Mutchler, “trying to be transparent without taking advantage of new technology is like clearing the roads by hand with a shovel instead of using a plow.”

Positioning Pennsylvania for the long-term

Today, with the open records leg of the stool firmly in place, Mutchler says Pennsylvania officials will need to attach two more legs to build government transparency that’s stable and sustainable for the long-term. She explains that to continue on this trajectory, they’ll next need to revisit laws around record retention and open meetings.

Mutchler says the existing record retention law that’s on the books in Pennsylvania hasn’t been updated since 1929, “not since blackberries were still on a bush,” she quips.

Today, municipalities struggle to manage not only physical documents but voluminous electronic records as well. There’s just way too much data to tackle transparency without factoring technology into the equation. Furthermore, someone has to decide how long governments should be required to store all those records. These are just a few of the myriad issues that still need to be researched and resolved.

As far as open meetings go, the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act currently requires agencies to “deliberate and take official action on agency business in an open and public meeting.” They also have to notify the public in advance so people “can attend, participate, and comment.” The founding fathers would be proud. Right now, the OOR does not enforce the Sunshine Act, but it does provide training on the law.

Mutchler declares it may take 10–15 years to get all three of these pieces to fall into place, but when they do, Pennsylvania will lead the country in transparency and serve as a model for open government everywhere. Spoken like a true hall of famer.

 

Join the conversation: Register to attend a live Q&A with Gov. Martin O’Malley January 23rd

by Michelle Martineau

Former two-term governor and pioneer of data-driven governing, Martin O’Malley

It’s not every day that you get to pick the brain of a former governor and pioneer of data-driven reporting and management systems for local governments, but next Wednesday you’ll get your chance.

Mark your calendar and reserve your virtual seat at the table now for “The New Realities of Public Leadership – A Live Q&A with Martin O’Malley.” On Wednesday, January 23rd at 3:00 PM (EST), ClearGov CEO Chris Bullock will sit down with the former two-term mayor of Baltimore and two-term Governor of Maryland to talk best practices for civic leaders in the age of misinformation.

Given today’s politically charged climate, it’s worth noting that the conversation will draw upon O’Malley’s vast experience in running governments by the numbers and not his party affiliation, as ClearGov’s mission to help democracies work better is strictly nonpartisan.

O’Malley’s experience in the public sector spans three decades and includes eight years serving as a city councilor, so he’s well versed in the challenges confronted by civic leaders at the city, state, and local level. He’s also an avid proponent of transparent, data-driven governing and a founding practitioner of CitiStat, an innovative statistics-based tracking system that he debuted in Baltimore and later evolved for statewide use as Governor. The cutting-edge program won Harvard University’s Innovations in American Government Award in 2004 and is now used by hundreds of governments across the country and globally.

O’Malley currently sits on the board of directors for ClearGov and shares the company’s passion for empowering public leaders to better communicate, connect, and engage with their constituents. Of course, with more ways than ever for the public to access, consume, and disseminate information, today’s leaders face a whole new set of challenges.

In the last decade or so, there’s been a profound shift in the way we as a society get and share news. The internet, social media, and smartphones have all played a role in the democratization of data. Today, more people than ever not only enjoy — but have come to expect — unfettered access to a near-infinite stream of information (accurate and otherwise).

While this new reality poses unique challenges for civic and school leaders, the opportunities far outweigh the risks. The most successful leaders will be those who learn to leverage Information Age technologies to inform better decision-making, drive transparency, and ultimately build public trust.

In an ebook published earlier this month, Governor O’Malley identified best practices for how to not only adapt in an increasingly hyperconnected world, but actually thrive and help your community to prosper in ways never before possible.

In a live Q&A with the Governor on Wednesday January 23rd, we’ll pick up where the ebook leaves off. Register now to secure your space at this live event. Even if you can’t attend, sign up now and we’ll send you a recording of what promises to be an insightful discussion about the challenges of public leadership in the era of “fake news.”

 

ClearGov makes news on the Bloomberg Baystate Business Hour

by Michelle Martineau

Bryan takes on Bloomberg Baystate Business Hour!

If your radio happened to be tuned to the Bloomberg Baystate Business Hour Monday afternoon, you may have heard the dulcet tones of ClearGov president Bryan Burdick making a compelling case for clarity in governance to Boston bureau chief Tom Moroney and radio news anchor Peter Barnes. If you missed it, you can listen here. Bryan’s segment begins around 13 minutes in.

Bryan made news on several fronts, announcing the launch of a new product feature called ClearGov Projects and a new partnership with Patch, a hyperlocal news platform that currently serves more than 1,200 communities, towns, and cities across the U.S.

ClearGov Projects gives local governments and schools an easy way to shine a spotlight on capital improvements and the initiatives people care about most. The new feature allows ClearGov customers to create and publish detailed project pages in a matter of minutes so they can easily share important updates about budgets, timelines, and more with their communities and the Press.

Speaking of the Press, ClearGov has also just joined forced with Patch to integrate ClearGov profiles directly into all of their local sites. After successfully piloting the new service in Massachusetts, we’re gearing up to roll it out to another 900 Patch sites across the country. Stay tuned to the ClearGov blog for more details on this exciting development and be sure to check out Bryan’s interview with Bloomberg’s Boston Bureau.

ClearGov named to GovTech 100 list for 2019 — 4th year in a row!

by Jena Skivington

2019 GovTech 100ClearGov is honored to be recognized as a GovTech 100 company for 2019. The annual list compiled and published by Government Technology magazine shines a spotlight on the top businesses committed to making a difference in state and local government agencies.

“We’ve made the prestigious list every year since we first opened our doors in 2015,” said CEO Chris Bullock. “And, we’re proud to be included among the top 100 again in what’s become an increasingly competitive space driven by innovators and trailblazers.”

In a feature article introducing this year’s top 100, Government Technology associate editor Ben Miller notes that 2018 was a remarkably active year in the GovTech market, fueled by mergers, acquisitions, and venture capital investments. Miller writes, “one thing has been made quite clear in the past year — if one asks whether investing in a gov tech company can really be profitable, the answer must now be ‘yes.’”

That comes as no surprise to ClearGov as we not only doubled our client base across 20 states last year but also raised an additional $2.25M through a second seed round of financing back in May. The oversubscribed round attracted both new investors and existing backers who upped their stake in ClearGov.

“We’re currently leveraging this latest infusion of capital to scale our sales and client services teams, bring more new products to market, and further advance our mission to help local governments be more efficient and effective,” said Bullock. To learn more about the 2019 GovTech 100 and the growth trajectory for companies that made the list, check out Ben Miller’s article.

Click here to view the full list of winning GovTech 100 companies for 2019.