For the most part, government boards operate in much the same way as other types of boards. Best practices for good governance apply to all boards of directors, including municipal boards. Directors of government boards often recognize their responsibility to ensure accountability and transparency more readily than other boards because of their service to the general public.
Municipal boards may be slower to implement technology than private or public boards because of lengthy procurement cycles and lack of government funds, even when technology promotes efficiency and saves money. When governments invest taxpayer dollars in technology, they need to be sure to get it right. Their first course of action is to look for governance management software solutions that were designed with the needs of government boards in mind.
Most government boards have to abide by state open meetings acts. Board directors for government boards are in the business of citizen capital. Government board directors have a duty to the general public to be accurate, transparent, accountable and efficient, and to make good use of public funds. These qualities are also part of the principles of good corporate governance. Secrecy of government operations generates mistrust while transparency ensures accountability.
What Is the Right Technology for Government Boards?
The right technology for government boards is technology that meets the needs of that particular board. Since government boards operate much like other boards, in seeking the right technology, boards should consider asking the same basic questions about technology as any other board. McKinsey & Company recommends that all boards ask themselves five basic questions about technology:
- How well does technology enable the core business?
- What value is the business getting from its most important IT projects?
- How long does it take the IT organization to develop and deploy new features and functionality?
- How efficient is IT at rolling out technologies and achieving desired outcomes?
- How strong is our supply of next-generation IT talent?
The right technology for government boards will support the core business activities of the board and enable them to be true partners with their many stakeholders. Government boards should be able to support the cost of implementing new technology by demonstrating the value it creates in cost-effectiveness, accuracy, efficiency and transparency. Municipal boards need software solutions from innovative software providers that understand the unique needs of government boards. The right software providers are forward-thinking and continually offer valuable upgrades and enhancements.
Security is a high priority for municipal boards and boards should consider the level of security that software providers offer before making choices. Electronic board solutions are only good if they work consistently. Government boards seeking to implement new technology should make sure that software providers offer 24/7 customer service every day of the year with quick response by qualified service personnel.
The most basic tools for government boards are a secure board portal and a secure messaging system. Electronic board portals support good governance by streamlining processes that lead to increased transparency and accountability. With these systems in place, government boards should be cognizant of other helpful digital applications, such as software for taking meeting minutes and electronic applications for board evaluations.
How Does Technology Support Municipalities?
Board portal software supports municipalities by automating processes, reducing human error, preserving documents, promoting good governance and maintaining confidentiality as necessary.
Governance management solutions automate many of the board’s standard processes like preparing agendas, taking minutes and streamlining meetings. Software solutions provide a safety net for issues that are subject to human error.
When government board directors make mistakes, even minor mistakes, they risk noncompliance with laws and regulations. Board portal software preserves the details of compliance issues, such as complying with meeting notice requirements, maintaining public access to meetings, retaining copies of agendas and minutes for the required length of time, and recording when the board met in closed sessions, along with their reasons for doing so.
BoardEffect uses cloud-based storage systems that provide unlimited storage. BoardEffect’s board management software solution allows board directors to retrieve documents quickly when needed for compliance or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Many government boards are required to write annual reports for the council or other parties.
Government boards are under as much pressure as other types of boards to make sure their boards have the proper composition that provides diversity of people and skillsets. Board portal technology supports good governance by preserving the board’s efforts to recruit, nominate and appoint candidates for the board that best represent the governing body and its constituency.
Board portals help to manage a municipality’s calendar of activities. Board administrators can set up the system so that it sends out automatic notifications about time-sensitive matters.
Government boards have the ability to go into executive session for the reasons outlined in their bylaws. Board portals support clear minute-taking that details the reasons boards decided to utilize private executive meeting matters. Minutes should also document how long board members spent in executive session. Due to confidentiality issues, the board should record only broad details of the matter for the permanent record.
The Right Technology for Municipalities Supports Boards Through Board Cycles
Municipal boards work through the same cycles as other boards. Citizens support their municipal governments through their taxes. Since municipal boards are the face and voice of the citizens in their communities, they need technology offered by BoardEffect, which supports their meeting cycles, their annual cycles and the development cycles of the board. In the interest of accountability, government boards need to support their meeting cycle with clear documentation and transparency. The right technology supports the annual cycle of required board activities, such as updating policies, maintaining regulatory compliance and planning initiatives. The development cycle focuses on board education, development and skillsets, and technology provides documentation of such progress.
In essence, getting the right technology helps government boards fulfill their duties as the general public expects them to. The sooner that municipalities can get buy-in from their authorities, the sooner they can implement software solutions that save money, improve efficiency and streamline workflow.