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Open government becoming essential for public image

February 4, 2013

While open and transparent government initiatives are being passed down from the White House, it is even more crucial for local government bodies to address the need for public opinion and community engagement. More citizens are becoming concerned with their town, city or county politics, and want to become more informed and involved. Issues centering around Second Amendment rights, government-run utilities, community safety and more are high on many people's lists, and by embracing improved meeting management technologies, smaller government offices will be able to ensure that the public's need for information is met.

Some communities have struggled to implement transparency and open government solutions adequately and have paid the price as far as community. Recent issues in South Dakota to implement a sufficient open government initiatives have left citizens irritated, according to the Aberdeen News. It leads the community to believe its leaders are out of touch with both technology and the needs of their constituents, while reducing the ability of those interested in terms of learning more and participating in the process to get involved.

Other areas have of course been more successful at implementing open government initiatives. Red River, New Mexico, recently saw its open government laws upheld when the town council was fined for a violation at a meeting on January 22, according to the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle. According to the state law, any council members must inform the public what will be discussed in a closed meeting without divulging the exact details. Personal matters and litigation are acceptable reasons to close a meeting to the public, but more often than not, citizens have a right to be involved in the proceedings. By adopting a strict policy for open meetings and attempting to stick to it, a town, city or council can improve not only general processes, but public image as well.

One way to enhance open government initiatives is to invest in high-quality agenda management software that will keep minutes and other information better organized for public awareness. This will allow a governing body to continue operating as normal, but also improve both its own information management, and the public's access to it at the same time. By reducing the labor and time needed to perform these tasks manually, a council will also save money and be able to allocate taxpayer's dollars to more critical needs.