June 20, 2011 By Andy Opsahl
About This Report
This report is based on the activities of the Digital Communities program, a network of public- and private-sector IT professionals who are working to improve local governments’ delivery of public service through the use of digital technology. The program — a partnership between Government Technology and e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government — consists of task forces that meet online and in person to exchange information on important issues facing local government IT professionals.
More than 1,000 government and industry members participate in Digital Communities task forces focused on digital infrastructure, law enforcement and big city/county leadership. The Digital Communities program also conducts the annual Digital Cities and Digital Counties surveys, which track technology trends and identify and promote best practices in local government.
Digital Communities quarterly reports appear in Government Technology magazine in March, June, September and December.
Seismic shifts in the economy are forcing dramatic changes in the nation’s cities and counties. Many jurisdictions have made deep cuts across the board, eliminated entire functions, or both, while seeking new means of support and collaboration. This is a time when relevance and adaptability of government — and by extension, the public-sector information technology community — is being subjected to a very real-world test. What’s more, this test is being conducted in full public view, every day and with every encounter between citizens and their government.
The urgent question is around how well, how nimble and how agile government is at adapting to the current environment while never losing sight of the future. This special report offers some answers in the form of best practices gleaned from our extensive local government surveys.
For more than a decade, e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government has conducted its Digital Counties and Digital Cities surveys in partnership with the National Association of Counties and National League of Cities. These surveys gauge how local governments are using digital technologies to meet policy priorities and service demands. This special report collects good ideas from hundreds of responses to the 2010 surveys.
The surveys asked respondents to provide information on their activities in these seven major programmatic categories:
A panel of market experts and former local government CIOs selected these examples based on the innovative nature of their approach, their connection to a strategic policy agenda within the implementing jurisdiction, results generated and the likelihood that the solution may be replicable in other communities. Judges also paid particular attention to integration and collaboration among departments and across regions.
We hope the following pages offer some new insight on the issues you’re dealing with and perhaps point you toward innovative new partnerships.
Below is a sampling of best practices highlighted in the
Oakland County, Mich.
Oakland County, Mich., was the standout in IT governance strategies for creating a service model that took into account end-users’ perspectives. In this category, DC judges considered only models where the CIO or CTO reported to the mayor or chief executive. Judges also looked for governance committees that included representation from executives across the spectrum of users and repeatable IT practices reflected in a published strategic plan.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.