Washington City, Utah Saves Time and Money with OpenGov
POPULATION: 19,000 | AGENCY TYPE: City | ANNUAL BUDGET: $47 Million
By using OpenGov, Washington City’s team experienced 90 percent time savings compared to compiling information for PDF reports.
Before implementing OpenGov, Washington City’s staff would spend weeks gathering and consolidating information to prepare the budget for presentation to Council. With OpenGov, Ruesch can complete the presentation in just half a day. “We’ve seen a time savings of 90-percent,” Ruesch said. “Not only that,” she continued, “in the presentation itself we were able to address and answer Council questions on the fly, even when their questions deviated from our presentation topics.”
Gained New Insights by Forecasting
Before OpenGov’s implementation, Ruesch and her team printed hard copies of monthly status reports, which were static. Furthermore, department staff often did not use them. With OpenGov, “we update our data weekly, rather than once a month, which allows departments to view budget-to-actual information in real time,” Ruesch noted. With current data in hand, department heads started to notice trends in costs such as overtime pay or utilities, as well as seasonal expenses that became useful in preparing future budgets with more accuracy.
“OpenGov allows us to look at our expenditure and revenue information and to drill down into the data to identify trends and engage each department,” Ruesch said. “We use OpenGov in planning to forecast using common averages. Once you get the data grouped the way you want, you can create linear regression models or decompress the data to examine seasonal variations.” Ruesch specifically noted the usefulness of the platform’s graphic visualizations, which allows staff at all levels to pinpoint trends they might not notice otherwise and compare those trends with revenues and expenditures to correct any variances.
This held true for non-financial data as well, including dispatch services and other transactional information. They can compare water consumption seasonally, for instance, which enables the City to maintain appropriate rate structures.
Internal Team More Effective and Accountable
Using the OpenGov Platform has enhanced internal communication and facilitated more appropriate resource allocation. During management meetings that bring together the City Manager, City Treasurer, and others, Ruesch used OpenGov to review real-time financials, explain any anomalies, and justify her recommendations.
Down-the-line communication improved as well. “Staff members may come to us and ask for additional staffing resources,” she said. “With OpenGov, we can sit down and, for example, compare a department’s wages with revenue. In one instance, we noticed a decline in the ratio between payroll expenditures and revenue, which helped us see we did need additional staffing for those departments.”