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Summit Recap: Governments Making a Measurable Impact

Success in the public sector is measured by the impact agencies make on citizens. Whether it’s feeding more families or providing access to health services or safer roads, government agencies from across the country are leveraging innovation to solve the hard problems facing their communities.

Two of these agencies recently spoke at the Granicus Virtual Digital Engagement Day — Jim Owczarski, the City Clerk in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Cathleen Kittle, the Director of Web and Editorial Services Bureau at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. During the “Agency Spotlight” session, Owczarksi and Kittle shared their innovation stories and gave some practical tips to spearhead change at your organization.

How Milwaukee Reduced Their Paper Use and Saved Millions

Milwaukee’s digital transformation started in 1983 when the Office of the City Clerk decided it was time to find a better way to produce agendas and hearing notices, manage ordinances, and file documents. “Something had to be changed,” Owczarski explained. “We could no longer manage ordinances on 3×5 cards or distribute agendas and notices on hand assembled briefing binders every three weeks.”

That change came in the form of complete agenda and minutes automation, automated certified copies and hearing notices, online submission systems and eBooks for paperless ordinance packets.

But the City of Milwaukee did not stop there. “In the near future we want to completely end reliance on paper files,” Owczarski said. “We are hoping that eventually we will be able to create a one stop shop for all of the plural bodies we serve and get us all under one umbrella.”

Want to go paperless at your agency? Owczarski had some tips, including:

  • Leverage the tools that work for you and what you are trying to accomplish. The City of Milwaukee uses iLegislate extensively but, your agency may need a different tool to meet your needs.
  • Keep looking forward. While Owczarski and his team have come a long way, he emphasized that they were nowhere near finished and are starting to adopt cloud storage solutions and continuing to move towards a paper-free environment.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments. Through its modernization efforts, the City of Milwaukee has been able to save millions of dollars. Owczarski put this in perspective by explaining that not only have they saved money but also nearly 196 trees and millions of dollars with the amount of paper they have not used since 1987.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Increased Engagement

In order to foster better communication between her department and the citizens it served, Kittle’s modernization efforts were focused on updating email processes. They had dozens of listserves that were governed by clunky and uncoordinated processes that hindered their efforts to serve the public’s needs.

To remedy this, Kittle and her team replaced separate listserves and email lists operated independently by agency programs and allowed the public to select from a list of agency topics to access the information they need. “We made it so every program in DEC was represented in some way and made it easier for people to subscribe to as many topics as they wish,” Kittle explained.

In doing so, DEC was able to increase their subscription rates by 150-200 percent while maintaining around a 70 percent engagement rate. “Some of the things that helped us achieve this success are overlays, short and concise emails, a newsletter approach to communications, and understanding analytics and activity reports,” Kittle said.

Looking forward, Kittle is optimistic that her team will continue to innovate, with her biggest goal for the rest of the year being continued consolidation and consistency in lists, content and email sends.

If you are looking to start your own innovation story, the 2017 Granicus Benchmark Report: Insights for Mapping an Effective Digital Strategy is a good place to start. Download the report here.

If you missed the Virtual Summit, visit the Granicus website to download the on demand webinars. If you have any questions, or want to reach out to discuss your content strategy, email info@granicus.com.