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Get to Know Your Friendly Neighborhood Clerk

Clerks are the unsung heroes of the public sector. They help file and manage important records, ensure elections are conducted fairly and accurately and record public meetings for transparency. Government would have a hard time functioning without them.

To learn more about one of the most important roles in local government, Granicus hosted a webinar, “2018 State of the Clerk,” to discuss the recently published 2018 State of the Clerk Report. Granicus experts Andre Eggert, Content Writer, and Jon Johansen, Product Manager, discussed who clerks are, the challenges they face and how to overcome those challenges.

To compile the report, Granicus identified nearly 10,000 clerks from across the U.S. and Canada and surveyed them on what they do and their daily challenges.

Unsurprisingly, clerks overwhelmingly work in local jurisdictions and serve communities of 10,000 people or less. What you may not have known is that clerks tend to be older than the workforce as a whole. “I’ll preface this with the phrase ‘with age comes wisdom,’” Eggert said. “About 77 percent of clerks are 46 years or older and 43 percent being 56 or older—[and that could be a problem].”

With so many clerks aging into retirement, a “silver tsunami” could hit the profession. Younger clerks and those that remain on longer might have to do more with less to fill the gaps. According to Eggert, clerks are particularly overwhelmed by manual records management. “Thirty-one percent of clerks said that they spend the most time dealing with records management and nearly two-thirds concluded that if they could wave a magic wand, they’d want more time to spend on records management.”

Paper-based records management systems are cumbersome and time consuming, often sending clerks on a wild goose chase across the office—or the city—to get the right information they need for an agenda packet.

Fortunately, technology can help eliminate the need for paper processes. Eggert cited the city of San Jose as a success story with its overhaul of its citizen board process. The city went from 14 filing cabinets of paper to only one drawer in a single filing cabinet. The citywide automation and digitization initiative led to a streamlined and nearly completely digital boards processes.

Next up was Johansen, who further illustrated the positive impact of going digital when he explained how the City of Milwaukee did more with less by implementing Granicus’ Meeting and Agenda products. “By choosing to automate, the city has saved 545 feet a paper, or 196 trees,” he said. Not only did this allow Milwaukee to be more accessible and transparent, it also freed up the time of clerks to work on other important tasks, rather than be overwhelmed by manual records process.

The good news is that you can release yourself from the feeling of being overwhelmed by records too. Download the report to learn more about what other clerks are doing or contact us if you’re ready to start digitizing your processes.