Making Financial Information Understandable to the Public

Very few citizens have a good understanding of their local government’s budget. While many municipalities put their budgets on-line, they often consist of hundreds of hard to understand pages of numbers.

Erie County New York’s operating budget is 405 pages long. The summary of the budget released by the County Executive, which is informative runs 70 pages long. In an effort to distill the information down further to increase public understanding of the budget Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw has created an 8 page summary of the budget which provides a nice overview for citizens.

The Government Finance Officers Association encourages the creation of reports designed to be readily accessible and easily understandable to the general public and other interested parties without a background in public finance. Their web site contains helpful information on how to prepare a similar budget summary in your community.

National Research Regarding Citizen Participation With Local Government

We need more citizen participation at the local government level. The National Research Center (NRC), a firm that conducts citizen surveys for more than 200 communities, compiled data on the types of residents who are most active. Overall, only 19 percent of Americans recently surveyed contacted their local elected officials over a 12-month . . . → Read More: How Do We Encourage More Citizen Participation With Local Government?

Making Freedom Of Information Requests Transparent

According to Robert Freeman the head of the New York State Committee on Open Government, one of the most common reason government officials make it difficult to obtain information is that they do not want to be embarrassed.

I have filed several Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests and have experienced first . . . → Read More: Making Freedom Of Information Requests Transparent

Does The Public Need To Be Protected Regarding Taxicabs?

The Buffalo Common Council has a Taxicab Committee and the City Code has 12 pages devoted to the regulation of taxicabs. The City Council actually decides and must approve taxicab rates. In addition to approving rates, the Council controls how many taxicab licenses can be issued by limiting the number of taxicabs to . . . → Read More: Does The Public Need To Be Protected Regarding Taxicabs?

Measuring Innovation In Government

The Partnership for Public Service a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving how the federal government works, does a survey every year regarding innovation.

The survey asks federal employees three interesting questions regarding creativity and innovation:

- Do you feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things?

- Are . . . → Read More: Measuring Innovation In Government