Many states have begun adopting legislation requiring transparency, and this can feel like a chore to comply with, but there are a lot of benefits for Districts that embrace transparency.
Public transparency is foundational to local government activity.
For districts, this means making information - everything from budgets and agendas to a mission statement - easily available for all citizens to access. Government transparency improves public perception of your district, cultivates better community relationships, and promotes accountability.
One of the biggest benefits, though, is increased community engagement. When citizens feel that their local government is accessible, approachable, and transparent, they are more likely to participate in District discussions and activities. More transparency is a positive thing!
And the good news is, technology has made transparency easier than ever.
Being more transparent in today's world is as simple as ensuring your website, the first place citizens typically look for information, is accurate, complete, and easy to navigate.
Here are 5 easy ways to increase transparency online
- A robust “About Us” website page
- A well-rounded "About Us" page should include a mission statement, a list of staff members and their functions, a list of board members and their term dates, bio, contact info and photo, a brief history of your district, and bonus points for additional staff/pictures!
- Detailed “Contact Us” information
- Address (with map!), phone number, email address, hours of operation, and bonus points for a contact us form!
- Links to budgets, agendas, and meetings schedule are easily accessible on the home page
- Don’t bury budgets, agendas, meeting information, and other essential information deep in the website. Ensure all of these items are easily accessible directly from the home page.
- A “search” function on the website
- Search boxes on a District website make it fast and easy for citizens to pull up government policies, financial information, forms, documents, and live-streaming videos for board meetings, and also saves time for the clerk or employee who would normally need to pull this information.
- Regular newsletters
- A once per month, or even once per quarter Newsletter via email is best
- Share any project information, general updates, changes to hours during the holiday season, etc. Let the community know what you're up to!
Once this is complete, continue to update your website and communications regularly.
➡ Pssst - Streamline websites have transparency and compliance checklists built into your website!
Now is the time to work on your district's transparency - so when it comes time to pass a rate increase or get a special levy approved by voters, you’ll be successful because they will already have a connection with you, and trust you.