(800) 995-8696

Open government practices require more

February 1, 2013

To adhere to open and transparent government laws and improve public engagement, many government bodies, from federal agencies to small town councils, put information online. However, simply making it available online doesn't exactly make it "open," especially when it comes to bills and similar proposals. A bill is often written in convoluted, complex language that can be incredibly difficult for the layman to decipher, and simply posting it doesn't really help the public understand what it means or what it will change.

NextGov recently supported this notion, stating that reading through legislature can be "mind boggling." The news source noted that it is a governing body's responsibility to make information easy for the public to understand, not just access. While the technology may not necessarily be useful for all government offices, the news source suggested something similar to tracking changes in a Microsoft Word document, highlighting exactly what a bill proposes to change in current laws for citizens.

However, for small government offices, it may be more effective to invest in high quality meeting management solutions, like IQM2's M2 Suite. Almost any new bill is heavily discussed in "open" board meetings, requiring explanations of changes and voting. With solutions to improve meeting minutes recording, a town, city or county government could easily provide extensive coverage of what occurs during those meetings to the public, which in turn will help citizens better understand what a bill proposal is intended to accomplish.

More towns, cities and counties are ready to adopt the meeting management services needed to enhance public awareness and understanding of proceedings. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, North Carolina has had transparency and open government solutions fall short in the past, but many officials in the state believe that new initiatives that will improve the situation will pass. Other places have recently been focusing on open government solutions as well, and the overall intent seems to be to increase both the availability of information to the public and the clarity of that information.

Government meeting minutes software provides the tools necessary to make governing processes easier to comprehend. These services will accomplish two tasks at once, both improving citizen engagement and reducing administrative work to free up councils to focus on more critical tasks.