e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government has conducted its Digital Counties and Digital Cities surveys in partnership with the National Association of Counties and National League of Cities for more than 10 years. These surveys show how local governments are using digital technologies to meet policy priorities and service demands. The surveys ask for information in these seven categories:
- IT Governance
- Public Safety, Emergency Management and Corrections
- Health, Social and Human Services
- Commerce, Labor and Taxation/Economic, Business, Community and Work Force Development
- Finance and Administration, HR, Licensing and Permitting
- Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, Parks and Agriculture
- Citizen Engagement, Open Government and Online Service Delivery
As reported on govtech.com, a panel of market experts and former local government CIOs selected these examples based on the innovative nature of their approach, their connection to a strategic policy agenda within the implementing jurisdiction, results generated and the likelihood that the solution may be replicable in other communities.
Oakland County, Mich.
Oakland County, Mich., was the standout in IT governance strategies for creating a service model that took into account end-users’ perspectives. In this category, DC judges considered only models where the CIO or CTO reported to the mayor or chief executive. Judges also looked for governance committees that included representation from executives across the spectrum of users and repeatable IT practices reflected in a published strategic plan.
Oakland County excelled in these areas. Since 1997, Oakland County has created a series of 24-month IT Strategic Plans designed to prioritize its technology activities. The plans are created by four IT leadership committees: The IT Steering Committee handles all internal matters regarding IT operations and the three other committees represent end-users, one for the courts, another for land use and the third for financial administration.
Public Safety, Emergency Management and Corrections
Montgomery County, Md.
DC judges showed special interest in whether or not local governments deployed integrated justice systems. Judges wanted to see projects that gave approved users across agencies access to records through a single entrance point. The Integrated Justice Information System (IJIS) in Montgomery County, Md., integrates data from multiple law enforcement and criminal justice data sources, enabling personnel to retrieve information they need for investigations and processing via one system.
The project was directed by a steering committee of representatives from the Montgomery County Police Department, Sheriff’s Department, Department of Corrections, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Montgomery County Circuit Court, the county’s health and human services agency and the county’s Department of Technology Services. IJIS gives employees from each of these agencies access to data collected by other agencies in the group, assuming the employee in question has clearance to view the data. In the past, workers often filled out paper forms to request the data. And if an employee was only permitted to view certain parts of the data requested, the entire request often was denied, said Lisa Henderson, program manager for Montgomery County.
Health, Social and Human Services
New York City
HHS-Connect, a program operated by New York City’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), served as this category’s model for Digital Communities judges, who wanted to see health and human services systems that significantly broke down information silos and shared information with other agencies — a common idea that may not seem new, but is still tricky to deploy. Agencies closely guard their health and human services data because it’s often sensitive and, by law, only viewable by certain people.
Commerce, Labor and Taxation – Economic, Business, Community and Work Force Development
Dakota County, Minn.
Dakota County IT director Anita Scott said the project’s success stems from strong end-user participation in the selection of the new solution and a careful analysis of the contract. After selecting its vendor, Dakota County spent three months ensuring there were no gaps or shortcomings in the contract before executing the deployment. The extra time enabled county organizations to negotiate adjustments with the vendor before the project launched.
Finance and Administration, HR, Licensing and Permitting
Fairfax County, Va.
Fairfax County, Va., met the judge’s criteria in this category for an aggressive enterprise approach, being one of the few municipalities of its size — more than 1 million people — to completely centralize IT. Since 2002, the county has combined permitting, inspection, licensing, cashiering, code enforcement and complaint activity for land use and construction onto a single enterprise software and database solution. The departments that collaborated on the project include Public Works and Environmental Services; Planning and Zoning; Health, Fire and Rescue; and Housing. Employees from all of those departments can access relevant information from one another via one application.
Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, Parks and Agriculture
Judges approached this category looking for green IT and green building projects, but they also expressed a general interest in applications that were simply innovative. They highlighted a project from the Riverside, Calif., Water Quality Control Plant, which uses video cameras to document damage and repairs to city sewer lines The project is set to go live in July of 2011.
Citizen Engagement, Open Government and Online Service Delivery
New York City
New York City was praised as a model for consolidated city/county government with outstanding delivery of diverse services to its 8 million citizens. In 2010, through its highly regarded 311 system, the city served its 100-millionth caller while at the same time expanding its service online through NYC 311 Online.
The report is based on the activities of the Digital Communities program, a network of public- and private-sector IT professionals who are working to improve local governments’ delivery of public service through the use of digital technology. The program — a partnership between Government Technology and e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government — consists of task forces that meet online and in person to exchange information on important issues facing local government IT professionals. Click here for more information.