Councils drive efficiency with electronic document management

June 12th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document Management | Information Management

Electronic document management has proven to provide a host of benefits for businesses, schools and doctor's offices alike. Now, city councils across the country are increasingly leveraging these technologies to cut down on paper dependency while also making government officials more efficient. Digital records can be accessed using any computer or tablet, meaning that users are able to flexibly retrieve important information from anytime and anywhere. Further, these records can be updated and shared immediately, which fuels more accurate decisions as well as more effective meetings.

The Herald Times Reporter revealed that the City Council of Manitowoc, Wis., recently approved standard guidelines for conducting paperless Common Council meetings. Aldermen have received iPads to begin these initiatives. Along with committee boards and commissions, the process of going paperless is expected to significantly reduce costs from paper and eventually eliminate duplicate documents, which can complicate operations. The news provider explained that the City Hall has been designed to be wireless throughout the building, and citizens also have access to free Internet when visiting. The paperless project has already dramatically reduced paper use for Council members. The Herald Times noted that it has allowed all committees to conveniently access data, driving efficiency for the local government.

Empowering officials
Meanwhile, Government Technology reported that Waukegan, Ill., is another city that has traded paper for electronic documents. The source stated that the city issued its aldermen tablets in place of the typical large paper packets that they are used to receiving before city council meetings. Waukegan spokesman David Motley explained that members are no longer required to haul around hefty packets, either. These officials have quick access to records on their iPads, which has accelerated the process of retrieving and digesting all information. Further, by adopting these devices, aldermen can receive their meeting materials more quickly – even days ahead of time, enabling them to prepare better before a meeting. Mayor Wayne Motley felt this would be a significant benefit. He noted that during his 12-year tenure as city clerk, he had observed that many of the city's leaders weren't up-to-date on relevant issues before meetings, with many claiming they never received certain documents.

"Right after I took office, I made a decision that it would be in the best interests of all of us to go paperless because it was a more effective way of disseminating information that was necessary to a meeting," said Mayor Motley, according to Government Technology.

Cities that transition to an electronic document management system can ensure that officials are more informed, which is key for productivity.

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