The move to digital solutions for both meetings and public records requests not only helped OC San reduce time and stress in preparing for meetings, it also provided new ways to give access to members of their community.
“I think that what we’ve all been through the last few years, it’s kind of changed how you give access to your government, to the people,” said Knapp. “We’ve proven that we can stream our meetings to the public. So as we transitioned out of the pandemic and our meetings were back in person, we’ve continued to make it so people don’t have to drive all the way in to participate in a meeting. You can remote in and we’re going to continue to give you access through eComment, and you can watch our meetings on our website.”
Over the last three years, the addition of livestreaming options and eComment has resulted in more general public feedback with more public comments and a growing, if still small, number of general public members attending meetings.
“We consistently have people we can identify attending the meetings online and many more are watching the stream,” she said. “If we were in-person only, I don’t believe they would be attending. So we feel that having streaming capabilities is broadening our reach.”
Creation of agenda packets that would previously take anywhere from eight to 12 hours, Knapp said, now take 90 minutes to produce.
“It has made the writing of agenda reports more efficient via the ability to collaborate in one central location and provide a consistent approval sequencing mechanism,” she said. “I don’t think that the time it takes to write agenda reports has changed, but it has made the process easier.”
Records requests from the public have also been made more efficient, with normal requests (which Knapp identifies as those not requiring extensive research to fulfill) can be responded to in less than 10 minutes. With approximately 400 public records requests processed and responded to in the last year, the change is dramatic.
“I can’t imagine walking back some of that technology with the public records requests,” she said. “It may be a small number compared to some agencies, so it’s relative. But it makes it so much easier.”
With govRecords being used to file and track a variety of other important public documents, including ethics training and sexual harassment prevention training for staff and elected officials on the Board, OC San is finding new ways to use the digital tools at their disposal to solve the problems they face now and in the future. Knapp added that the relationship with Granicus is the basis for that development.
“Working in government, you care, right?” she asked. “You care about what you’re doing. It matters. I have yet to come across anybody at Granicus that isn’t kind, smart, knowledgeable, and willing to help.”