Welcome to Glynn County, GA. Home of the Golden Isles of Georgia (St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, and the port City of Brunswick), where you can spend a day sitting on the soft sand beaches listening to the ocean waves, or visiting one of many beautiful historical sites.
And now, thanks to the dedicated work of Chief Financial Officer Tamara Munson and the rest of the Glynn County team, it’s a place where residents experience full transparency into the capital improvement process.
“We heard a lot about the lack of transparency and timeliness in reporting and finishing projects, so that was one of our commitments to the public. We will give you easy access to the data you’re looking for,” said Munson.
RFP Creation Takes 1-2 Hours, Instead of 2-3 Weeks
Public Transparency Into Its 5-Year Capital Plan
Simplified Review Process for Capital Requests
The Challenge: Strengthening Public Trust
After having a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, known as SPLOST, passed by a narrow margin in 2022, Glynn County knew it was time to tackle the transparency issue. Capital improvement plans funded by previous SPLOSTs were delayed or unfinished, and Glynn County leaders and the public alike were trying to understand why.
In addition, one of the Board of Commissioners’ top priorities is growing Glynn County. But, with a reputation of being difficult to do business with, it was hard to get things done.
The Solution: Collaborative Technology for Multiple Departments
With transparency as the first goal, followed closely by improving collaboration and efficiency, Glynn County turned to OpenGov Budgeting & Planning, Procurement, and Cartegraph Asset Management to transform its capital improvement processes.
Munson and team completed their first Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan using OpenGov, and have seen immense improvements, internally and externally. From collecting project proposals and feedback to automatically sharing results, the capital improvement planning process is better for all involved.
“Some people who have been very critical of us vocally in the past, have made comments about how great they think this new platform is, and how happy they are with the transparency and information that’s out there and being provided,” said Munson.
The Results: Planning, Purchasing, and Reporting With Confidence
A Smarter Way to Collect Project Proposals
Every capital planning cycle kicks off with department requests. Collecting, reviewing, and managing these requests is a juggling act for many teams. Glynn County has streamlined the capital planning request process using an easy-to-follow form in OpenGov, freeing up time for the County to be more strategic on which proposals to greenlight and drive growth.
“We built a form template for all capital requests this year, and the departments have been very pleased with it,” said Munson. “Every capital request that comes in requires this form to be filled out with what they are asking for. We also ask departments to rank their priorities. We always get a lot more requests than we have money, as I’m sure every government does. So if you’re submitting 10 capital requests, I need to know what your rank is from one to 10.”
These requests are used when the budget team meets with department heads, engineers, procurement, and project managers. Everything the team needs to review is in one place. Reviewers can also leave notes, provide a preliminary decision, and rank the project red, yellow, or green.
“Having this process in place took a lot of the burden off of the budget team to gather information for review,” said Munson. “We can sort by fund. We can sort by department. And just look at the big picture of everything that’s out there.”
In addition, the requests can be shared digitally for virtual meetings. With departments located in facilities other than the Administration building, this saves department heads gas and time from driving all over the County for meetings.
A New Level of Collaboration and Efficiency
Before OpenGov, Munson and her team were building detailed plans in Excel and bogged down with hundreds of emails. These tools presented a huge challenge for efficiency and collaboration. Staff spent too much of their time trying to make the process work instead of focusing on building the right plan.
“It’s not efficient to use Excel with Word documents and emails,” said Munson. “We have between 80 and 100 projects at a time. It’s a lot to juggle, and a lot to keep track of. We needed a platform to pull information from all of these different tools together.”
Today, all stakeholders can work on the plan right in the software. Teams can leave notes, ask and answer questions, and check on progress, eliminating the need to weed through emails to find what they need.
Procuring the goods and services for capital plans also needed an efficiency upgrade. The team at Glynn County implemented OpenGov Procurement, and is now building RFPs in 1-2 hours, instead of 2-3 weeks. Plus, the team has access to detailed procurement data for every RFP, that can be easily shared.
“In the past, we’ve taken a lot of criticism if we only got one bid on a project,” said Munson. “There were questions from the public and we’d have to say we don’t know why we got that one bid, sometimes even rejecting it and re-releasing the RFP. Now, I can go to the Board to ask for approval of the contract with answers to the questions. Yes, we only did get one bid submitted. However, we had 119 vendors Look at this RFP and 30 vendors downloaded it.”
The icing on the cake: Procurement data for open records requests is easily accessible, rather than the team needing to sift through emails to find the information they need.
An Open Door Capital Plan
Working in Excel was not only inefficient and lacked collaboration, but it also was completely inaccessible to the public.
“We had our capital plans in Excel sheets, but it was never published or open to the public,” said Munson. “When we moved to OpenGov, this was a big challenge we had for our five-year plan. We love the fact we can share our plans with the community and also solicit feedback.”
“We are able to let the public know at any given time where we are on a project,” said Munson. “Where are we with the design? Where are we in land acquisition? Are we hitting any significant issues or problems? Some of our project pages will have a section that includes risks and challenges, and this can all be pulled in from project management software as well.”
To make the process even easier on the team, data on the site is automatically updated every night eliminating the need for manual updates and ensuring the public is getting accurate information about any project’s progress in real time.
The team is also able to disclose operating impacts to capital projects, which is a requirement of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOAr). “We do submit our budget to the GFOA,” said Munson. “Every year, it is an area that needs improvement and we’re definitely moving in that direction!”
What’s Next? Protecting Assets for the Long Term
To take capital asset management from reactive to proactive, Glynn County recently implemented OpenGov’s Cartegraph Asset Management. The software will allow the team to track exactly what assets they have, where they are located, and how much money has gone into maintaining them. It will also help them plan for future purchases.
“We’re starting to look at a fleet replacement fund, so we have started tracking our fleet usage and mileage and projecting out when these vehicles will need to be replaced,” said Munson. “We then are charging departments the monthly cost to their operating budget so we can save up for replacements. That way we’re not spending millions of dollars out of our capital budget every year replacing vehicles. Instead, we’re building money over the years while those vehicles are being used.”
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