Government reporting is becoming increasingly difficult. Citizens have the right to ask for any information, documents, or records that have been created and this data is generated across departments, teams, devices, accounts, and applications. Requests can come in at any time. And regardless of how they come in, public agencies must be prepared to turn over any information that’s been generated.
Fulfilling open public record requests can be challenging, especially for agencies that haven’t digitized their public records or internal processes. In some departments, government employees are personally responding to and manually tracking every individual request that comes in.
How does your agency handle incoming requests? Are staff members responsible for receiving and managing them? Does information need to be manually retrieved? If so, does this involve contacting and coordinating with other departments, offices, or staff members? Are all the records digitized? Do records need to be manually photocopied, cleaned up, redacted, or otherwise prepared? How is information delivered? Does someone need to email, fax, or mail it? Is the government reporting work tracked and ready for auditing?
That might be fine when responding to one or two straightforward record requests. But requests are on the rise, along with average processing times and backlogs. In 2021, federal agencies experienced an 8.51% year-over-year increase in FOIA requests, with an 8.09% increase in backlogs and a 2-day increase in processing time.
State, municipal, and local government agencies are experiencing much of the same. Public trust is down and demand for accountability is high. Smaller agencies are being hit with an increasing number of difficult-to-fulfill information demands. The public expects broad and detailed information to be handed over at a moment’s notice.
Further complicating things are the tracking demands set in place by legislators. Legislators expect public agencies to track, log, and report details around all open public record requests – and to do so in a way that can be verified.
Effective and efficient public records management doesn’t happen ad hoc on spreadsheets or with generic solutions.
Complex conditions call for a specialized government reporting solution, like FastTrackGov® (FTG).
Optimizing Government Reporting
FastTrackGov optimizes information retrieval via specialized dashboards that enable constituent self-reporting, report tracking, auditing, and end-to-end automation.
A dashboard is an interactive interface that connects to and displays data from multiple systems, databases, applications, and solutions. This is one of the most convenient ways to access and view information, especially when it’s stored in several different places.
Dashboards can come as standalone solutions or as built-in features within a platform. A standalone dashboard is used to pull and show information stored on other platforms, databases, and apps. Solutions can include dashboards to show data, information, and insights generated within them. Some allow the dashboard to show data pulled from integrations with other software.
FastTrackGov integrates reporting dashboards, citizen self-service, automated workflows, and auditing capabilities. This delivers seven transformational benefits to public records management.
- Streamlines internal government reporting processes and workflows.
- Enables control and tracking of open public records requests.
- Makes requests and reporting processes auditable.
- Saves time spent on finding records.
- Reduces the costs of delivering public records.
- Makes the department more efficient and productive.
- Analyzes workflows with user-friendly reports that identify bottlenecks.
This information management tool is essential for facilitating government reporting and lies at the core of an effective records management program.
Dashboards Eliminate Data Silos and Consolidate Information
Dashboards are a perfect solution for accessing and finding information stored in different places. That may sound simple, but this is often the biggest challenge that agencies face.
Open public record requests often ask for information that’s stored in several different places. Retrieving this can be difficult for agencies that haven’t enabled a seamless information flow by eliminating any data silos.
Silos occur when data or information is isolated within software systems or organizations and unable to be accessed by external solutions, people, or other entities. Data can be locked into solutions that don’t provide a way to extract it or integrate it with other tools. But an organization’s structure or management can also lead to information becoming stuck inside teams, departments, or agencies.
Sometimes data can be technically accessible – but not practically so. For example, for all practical purposes, information can become siloed inside an app with a slow extraction process or buggy integration. Skill gaps can lead to information silos as well. This happens when platforms include data extraction capabilities but require technical skills that staff members don’t have.
Information silos always represent an obstacle to true digital transformation and may be the number one barrier to agency efficiency, modernization, and digitalization. In recent research from Workday, Inc., 55% of executive-level government employees reported a slowdown in their digital transformation. Data siloes were pinpointed as the main culprit.
- Only 2% of government leaders reported their organization’s data as being fully accessible
- 61% said their data was either somewhat or fully siloed
- 59% reported that their inability to connect data was damaging their organization’s agility
- 80% believe that having the ability to integrate data found in disparate systems is the most important factor in improving their real-time decision-making abilities
Public agencies can eliminate silos and keep existing solutions in place by integrating existing document management, accounting, communications, or project management applications with a government reporting dashboard.
Government Reporting Dashboards Optimize Information Discovery
Here’s another advantage of using a digital public records dashboard. One search in the dashboard searches every database or solution that’s connected to it. This slashes the time it takes to find data and speeds up information discovery.
Individual database searches are inefficient for government reporting. Dashboards enable you to search multiple data storage locations at once. It’s the most effective way to locate information.
Dashboards are Specialized Information Delivery Tools
Dashboards are data delivery mechanisms that are specifically designed for information communication. Their interfaces are built to organize then present data in the best way possible. Users should be able to understand the information and the context around it within a glance. Government reporting dashboards convey this information in compliance with accessibility standards.
This isn’t true for every program. Most programs are okay, but not great at showcasing or extracting data. This is because the user experience, user interface, and information hierarchy must prioritize core features. If data retrieval or reporting isn’t part of a solution’s main offer, those features are often less developed.
A subpar interface or navigational structure might be fine for the occasional information lookup, but that doesn’t cut it for public records management. This type of reporting demands a solution with a UX, UI, and architecture intended for information delivery. Dashboards are built for this.
Dashboards Enable Citizen Self-Service
Dashboards can enable citizen self-service when used alongside features like constituent-facing portals. Portals provide the public with a designated place to make, track, and receive record requests. Offering this will help cut down on requests made via emails, phone calls, and other means of communication.
Constituent portals can be used for all public-facing interactions and to deliver information, such as updates, report tracking, and digital public records.
Citizen portals are essential for accepting requests in an organized and efficient way. Your agency can eliminate the chaos and constant busywork caused by screening, reading, sorting, and filing ad hoc requests sent in via email, letters, phone calls, faxes, personal conversations, and other channels.
A government reporting solution that includes a portal, dashboards, and reporting features can effectively automate the entire request management process and enable complete constituent self-service. This enables staff members to stop spending time on endless data-finding and retrieval tasks and move on to other areas.
End-to-End Public Records Management
Government reporting is tough. There’s much more to it than sending off copies of data, every now and then. Open public record requests must be received, tracked, and answered with an auditable trail. Reports must be answered in a timely manner, no matter how much or what was asked for.
Email chains, online doc tools, and spreadsheets aren’t going to cut it. At least, not for agencies that want to stay on top of constituent inquiries and open records legislation, while remaining efficient and productive. These departments need a public records management solution with a dashboard that optimizes open public record requests.
Dashboards are the best way to consolidate, search, retrieve, and deliver public records. These information management tools eliminate silos and make public records management far more efficient. When used in a solution that incorporates, it can offer end-to-end automation.
Departments that have fully digitalized their public records can switch to end-to-end public records automation. Other agencies can streamline their constituent interactions and gain more control over the tracking process, using the dashboard to handle as much as possible.
This is an ideal solution for time-strapped and resource-tight public agencies, especially those that have struggled with digitalization. Dashboards can be integrated with a variety of existing software applications and systems – immediately eliminating silos and creating a seamless information architecture. It’s a cost-effective and efficient to transform reporting processes.
FastTrackGov is a smart government reporting platform that automates public records management, delivering a fresh and modern experience from beginning to end.
Ask us for a personal demonstration and we’ll show you how. Schedule a conversation with us here.