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How Digitizing Public Records Can Improve Transparency for State and Local Governments

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The Importance of Transparency in Government 

What exactly is transparency in government? There is no commonly agreed upon definition, but it generally means how much access to internally-held information citizens are entitled to. Governments that practice excessive secrecy can go against the quality of public decision-making and even promote corruption. Here are three direct benefits of the creation of transparency in government by digitizing public records with a secure document control software.

Increases efficiency and effectiveness

Studies have shown that in countries where government information is available to the public, those governmental bodies actually work better because a constant discipline is imposed on them. By receiving public feedback, politicians and other government employees get more done, because they know what they need to work on and how they can improve. Transparency creates a catalyst for reform, which can result in large savings of public resources and improved socioeconomic and human development indicators.

Helps prevent corruption

As stated in Transparency International's Global Corruption Report, "information is perhaps the most important weapon against corruption”. By giving your citizens free access to government information, they can use these official records to uncover acts of corruption. The public will be able to hold your politicians accountable. And because government officials will be aware of these checks and balances, many will be deterred from enacting any future corruption practices.

Builds confidence in your government

Naturally, when the public sees the inner workings of your governmental processes, they begin to trust it more. Posting information allows for two-way communication between your administration and your citizens and acting upon this feedback shows you are listening and are responsive to the public’s needs. When citizens know they can easily find, reference, and comment on information that affects them they hold a higher confidence that their government is being open and honest with their community and looking out for their best interest.

How Digitizing Public Records Can Bring Transparency

As the world continuously moves into the Digital Age, it is important for governments to begin following this trend as well. And one of the first steps in this process is the digitization of important government documents. Now that most companies provide a lot of information on the internet, the public expects the same from its government. And in order to achieve the previously mentioned benefits of transparency, this progression is vital. Here are a few ways digitizing your documents can lead to increased transparency:

Eases public access

Everyone searches for information online. And as mentioned above, people expect the organizations they trust to have their documentation easily accessible, and this includes their government. By digitizing your documents with an electronic document management system (DMS), you can publish only the documents you want your citizens to access to a public portal or website with one click. This availability provides your constituents with the transparency that would not be available if all government documents remained only as physical paperwork.

Compliance with the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act

Section 508 of the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act states that certain electronic documents must be available to people with disabilities. By using a document management system, governments can meet these requirements by uploading their digitized documents to online portals or public kiosks. In addition, by storing your documents digitally, your government can make meeting agendas available for public access while indexing other public documents for ease of access and use, allowing you to remain transparent and compliant with these laws.

Improved response time by government employees

If your government employees rely only on manual or paper-based methods, they are most likely much less efficient than they have the potential to be. With a document management system like ENSUR, processes can be completely automated. Documents and requests are routed automatically from one step to the next, so there is no risk of a paper request becoming buried on someone’s desk. This eases the communication between the public and their representation, allowing employees to get back to constituents much quicker, thus increasing transparency while building relationships with their citizens.

How to Guarantee Security of Digitized Public Records (DMS) 

Even though you may realize all the positives that come with digitizing your government’s records, a security concern might arise; how will your private documents be kept away from the public eye? Utilizing a DMS with a comprehensive security model will ensure that only the appropriate people have access to documents. These security features may include:

  • Electronic signatures
  • Multi-factor password authentication
  • The ability to set extensive password requirements for users
  • 360o Audit trails on all documents

With these protections, you do not need to worry if your information is secure, only the information you want to be public will be available to your citizens. Your collection of documents is stored in a secure, monitored environment where transparency is optional and fully configurable.

To learn more about the benefits of digitizing your government documents, contact us today.

Tags: document management system, Government, Digitizing Public Records