New department-level reporting capabilities showcase the invisible work local governments do every day to create value for residents
Maynard, MA (12/03/19) – ClearGov, a leader in cloud-based technology for local governments and school districts, announced today it has expanded its popular financial transparency platform to include reporting capabilities for departments as well. ClearGov’s new department dashboards tool makes it easy for agencies to publicly share more than just dollars and cents. Now local governments and school districts can quickly communicate performance and outcome data for every department in their agency.
Today, hundreds of civic and school entities in 30 states use ClearGov’s unique, infographic-based transparency profiles to communicate complex financial data in an easy-to-understand format. Now, in addition to sharing budget information, agencies can harness the untapped value of non-financial metrics to tell a more complete story about the work they do for the communities they serve.
Beyond where government money comes from and how it’s spent, residents increasingly want to understand the return on their investment. ClearGov’s new department dashboards tool allows agencies to move beyond mere fiscal transparency to operational transparency — reporting on the volume, quality, and efficiency of services rendered.
A dedicated transparency page for every government department
Whether it’s making schools and cities safer, improving transportation, or supporting economic development, every government department is guided by its own mission, goals, and strategy. ClearGov’s new dashboards module gives each department head a voice and a dedicated transparency page where they can share their vision, communicate their progress toward goals, and post their results.
“Every department from school custodial services to municipal zoning operates in line with their organization’s overall strategic plan,” says CEO Chris Bullock. “And, like business units in the private sector, each has documented objectives they’re expected to achieve. Now, department heads can easily share those key performance indicators (KPIs) and other custom metrics both internally and with the public at large.”
The city of Morgantown, West Virginia recently published this police department dashboard. Through a series of custom charts, Morgantown’s police chief is able to quickly convey a ten-year history of calls received, crimes committed, arrests made, and citations and warnings issued — all at a glance. The dashboard effectively displays a decade’s worth of data in an easy-to-understand snapshot that’s accessible to residents and internal stakeholders alike.
That’s just one example. The potential use cases for department dashboards across an agency are virtually unlimited. The head of environmental services can display the number of good air-quality days, the school cafeteria can report on the food cost per meal , and so on. With ClearGov, if you measure it, you can display it.
Bullock adds, “This new tool helps level the playing field for small- and mid-sized agencies that may not have the resources — or frankly the need — to invest in the pricey performance management software their big-city counterparts use.”
Organizations with more modest means and objectives now have an affordable, turnkey way to achieve operational transparency. The pages are easy to set up and maintain, so agencies don’t have to hire additional staff or schedule lengthy training sessions. In fact, any authorized user in the organization can create and publish a professional-looking dashboard in minutes — no design or programming experience necessary.
Bullock says the dashboards are modular by design, “Users choose from a well-stocked library of pre-designed panel templates, colorful chart options, and relevant icons to quickly configure their page. Populating a dashboard is as easy as clicking on the design you like and entering your data — and you can use any data points you want.”
Beyond conveying KPIs at a glance, department heads can also use dashboard pages to generate awareness for underfunded initiatives, dispel public misconceptions, and rally vital community support. Each panel has social share buttons too, making it easy for both agencies and page visitors to spread department updates with a simple click.
Department dashboards give citizens a window into how government works
Local governments and school districts seldom get credit for the myriad services they deliver, or the tremendous value they provide. That’s because agencies often lack the time, resources, and inclination to engage in what seems like self-promotion. In a nutshell, they’re too busy serving the community to stop and explain how they’re serving the community.
Citizens are busy too. So, if they don’t interact with a department directly, chances are they have no idea how that department impacts their lives. For example, the average resident probably knows little about their town’s department of public works until they encounter a pothole or an unexpected detour on their commute. Then, they start searching for answers — often online. That’s where department dashboards can make a difference.
A 2019 Harvard Business School case study on operational transparency notes that when people are given a window into and out of an organization’s operation, they have a better understanding and appreciation of the value of the services provided. Bullock says ClearGov’s department dashboards help create those windows of opportunity for local government and ultimately build community trust and support.
“Imagine a public works dashboard that displays monthly metrics like number of water lines fixed, or miles of streets paved, and sidewalks repaired. That’s the kind of behind-the-scenes context that citizens can understand and respect,” says Bullock. “Sure, they still want that pothole fixed, but now they know there’s a well-monitored process in place — and that the people in public works actually have their back.”
“What gets measured gets done”
Business management consultant Peter Drucker famously opined that what gets measured gets done.” ClearGov agrees. Publishing a department’s progress toward goals on a public-facing dashboard helps drive accountability and long-term success. That’s because every data point recorded today informs tomorrow’s decisions and contributes to better outcomes. ClearGov sees operational transparency and department dashboards as the logical next chapter in the open data story, empowering agencies and the citizens they serve to build more collaborative, efficient, and sustainable data-driven communities.
ClearGov is on a mission to build a community of modern, transparent, data-driven local governments and school districts. ClearGov helps local agencies streamline their operations and catalyze community support by making complex government data easy to understand and easy to use. We provide a full suite of turnkey solutions to help drive financial and operational transparency, modernize budgeting, and better connect agencies with the communities they serve. ClearGov’s award-winning platform is currently used by hundreds of communities across 30 different states. For more information, visit www.cleargov.com.