I recently met with five people who have been in state and local government for a combined total of over 100 years. It was a group that covered multiple areas of government including Health and Human Services, Courts and Corrections, Finance and Emergency Management. Everyone came to the table with a list of topics that were important in their respective policy areas. Interestingly enough, all five, in some form, had the exact same things on their list.
Transparency and performance in government.
What we all came to agree upon was that no matter what the policy area, government transparency and performance were the two major issues facing state and local governments in the next few years. We concurred that tightening budgets, higher citizen demand, greater media scrutiny and large infusions of stimulus dollars are all transparency drivers.
The group believed this increased demand for transparency was a tremendous opportunity to approach governing in a new light. It provides agencies with new opportunities to eliminate old barriers to information sharing, such as political will, and instead create situations where information is shared to seek the optimal performance for an agency.
For example, a client using multiple social services programs could be evaluated holistically instead of simply within each individual program to determine the combination of programs and approaches the will lead that client to the greatest level of self sufficiency. It’s a different approach than the traditional view of” here is how many people are in a program, here is how much money was spent, etc.” This new look would offer a roadmap to providing optimal service levels that balance the citizen’s needs with the needs of the budget.
So, whether it’s through detecting improper payments in Medicaid transactions before they take place, optimizing the recovery process from a flood in Iowa, more accurately predicting budgets or better predictions of likely crime spots in a community, transparency and performance are top of mind among government leaders. Hopefully, this new call for greater transparency is going to lead to more proactive government and fact-based decision making!
Transparency may be top of mind and it is good politics to talk about it but are they truly brave enough to follow through with it. Those that ARE brave enough ultimately gain the most politically because they gain the trust and in turn...perhaps a few extra votes.