Showing Transparency Requires More than FOIA Data Dumps

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1966 has changed little over the years, primarily a paper-based process, until the 1990s when amendments required governmental offices to make some records available electronically. Even with the 2006 Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act that required documents be searchable, records remained static documents that still required manual effort to locate. Now, several agencies are using open data and checkbook portals to share public data easier, faster and more affordably.

In addition to FOIA, all 50 states and many other local governments have enacted their own FOIA laws. Sharing information with citizens provides a level of transparency, particularly with financial matters. However, as noted in “Beyond the Data Dump,” posted by Erin Latham on Governing.com, while the information is there for all to see, it isn’t exactly easy to get. Even after much of the paper-based data was digitized into PDF files, significant manual efforts are still needed to locate and extract data for use.

Denver, New York State and Williamson County, Texas have created intuitive web portals for their citizens to use. For example, with just a few clicks, citizens can access spending data and manipulate the data to get the comparison insight they need much faster than pouring through PDFs. Although this is certainly an improvement, there is more that can be done to bridge the gap between governmental agencies and the citizens they serve. For example, showing citizens the relationships between money spent and the outcomes achieved can lead to greater involvement and support by the community.

ERP Helps Governmental Agencies Capture and Share Data with Efficiency

That may seem like a tall order; however, it’s possible with modern management solutions. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can capture all financial transactions from income to expenses, proposed vs. actual budgets, and other fiscal information. Business intelligence, dashboards, and reporting features target and export real-time data much faster and more accurately. In addition, a variety of data comparisons can be prepared quickly for citizens using the FOIA process or to other agencies and organizations, as needed.

Streamline internal processes and share data with greater efficiency by replacing outdated processes with modern technology. Contact AKA Enterprise Solutions to learn how to show transparency, save time, and strengthen community relationships with ERP.

By AKA Enterprise Solutions, a Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP Partner for Public Sector

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Contributor: AKA Enterprise Solutions

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