Reporting Process Streamlined
The City of Ridgefield enjoys a collaborative process in which Council sets high-level goals and staff subsequently responds with strategic options for meeting those goals. This collaboration is strengthened by giving Council as much information as possible along the way, including cost analyses and service resource time projections, which helps members make informed choices.
Before implementing OpenGov, the communication chain consisted of static reports that would take up to a half a day to prepare. “Since we’ve gone to OpenGov, it can take minutes,” Johnson noted. In addition to these time savings, department heads now have access to an interactive platform that can save views relevant to their specific interests, like personnel or supply costs. “Staff can go in at any time, do a search by keyword, and automatically get right to the information they need,” Johnson explained. Not only can staff view the data, but they can also manipulate it to visualize scenarios, make changes, or engage in dialog with others relative to the information there.
The on-demand access to real-time information creates an efficient internal workflow with a self-service nature. Senior managers are empowered to make smarter decisions, staff can easily see how data supports the results of their work, and Council can see real progress toward its higher-level goals. The interactive reports enable Johnson to drill down into current information during Council meetings as well. “We can use live data for our quarterly reports during council meetings and get that information out to the public in the same way,” Johnson said. Indeed, the Council has been not just receptive but excited about improving the presentation of data and prospect of increasing capabilities in the future.
Ridgefield Increases Citizen Engagement and Accountability
“OpenGov is a tool that helps us be more accountable,” Johnson said. “It’s not a static report that’s just available on our website. It’s something that citizens can use to find what they want.” With information presented in a way that is easy to understand, Johnson says citizens are better able to hold the City accountable and feel good about the City’s fiscal responsibility. “With OpenGov,” he said, “it’s easier for citizens to understand how and what we’re spending our money on. That makes them feel like we’re making the right decisions, or they can better understand the decisions we’re making.”
Citizens are also newly able to answer common questions immediately and on their own. As is the case in most municipalities, many of the public information requests that come into Ridgefield are relatively simple but take significant time to fulfill. With OpenGov, the City’s staff saves time responding to such requests, and members of the public have easy access to answers at their convenience.