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The Diligent team
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The importance of effective and efficient local governments

March 6, 2019
0 min read
Person evaluates the importance of effective and efficient local governments

Local governments were designed with the purpose of creating order in ways that serve the general public democratically. The general public elects the leaders that they have the most faith in to run an effective local government. In electing leaders, the public gives these elected officials the power to do whatever is necessary to perform its functions and to achieve the municipality's objectives, including giving the officials the power to levy taxes on citizens.

In exchange for their power, local citizens expect their government to be fair and to spend their tax dollars wisely and without waste. Citizens expect government workers to work as efficiently as possible so that their tax dollars are put to the best use.

The evolution of board portals for effective local governments is the best and newest solution for bringing efficiency and effectiveness into homes and communities.

>> See our Local Government Meeting & Agenda Management Software Buyer's Guide

Understanding the Purpose of Local Government

To best understand the importance of how to run an effective local government, it's important to trace back to under the original intents and purposes of local government.

The purpose of local government is to provide an organized system where councils exercise their power and responsibilities to work together for peace, order and good governance of their municipal districts. As part of their duties, councilpersons are expected to work toward improving social, economic, and environmental viability and sustainability for the benefit of their district. Their duties also entail promoting appropriate business and employment opportunities for citizens. Effective local governments provide overall quality of life for the people who reside in their communities.

Local councils are composed of board members or board trustees. The town clerk arranges for a public election to be held at various intervals where registered voters can vote democratically for their choice of public officials to represent them. The role of the councilpersons is to achieve the best outcomes for the local community with a focus on the long-term quality of life and continued community growth.

Federal and state laws exist to provide protections for citizens. Disability laws ensure that the services and facilities provided by local government are accessible and equitable to everyone living within the community.

While not all duties and responsibilities are defined at the local, state and federal levels, the public holds certain expectations for those they elect. Citizens expect that their elected officials will abide by laws and regulations. Beyond that, they expect that their officials will use their resources efficiently and effectively and in ways that provide the most value.

Along those lines, citizens expect that the rates they get charged for services the government provides will be justified and reasonable. Citizens expect their elected officials to be accountable for their actions and decisions. Accountability considers that local citizens are entitled to the transparency of information, with the exception of information that is confidential.

The Connection Between Effectiveness and Efficiency

It's common to see the words 'effective' and 'efficient' together, even though they hold very different meanings. While the two words have starkly different definitions, they often go hand-in-hand.

Effectiveness refers to the process of producing a desired intent or result, and it requires doing the right thing to make it happen.

On the other hand, efficiency refers to preventing or minimizing wasting materials, energy, effort, money or time. We can further break down the word efficiency by categorizing it.

Technical efficiency refers to doing the most or making the most of something. A common idiom that relates to technical efficiency is 'getting the most bang for your buck.'

Allocative efficiency refers to using resources that produce the highest value. A good example of allocative efficiency is opening up a coffee shop near a train station. This type of business is attractive and convenient for commuters who enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee during their morning commute. The new coffee shop also receives a boost for the business as the traffic from the trains will help them to become profitable quickly.

Dynamic efficiency refers to better and easier ways of doing the same thing. A board portal system by iCompass, a Diligent brand, provides a perfect example of how local government boards can work more effectively and efficiently.

Expectations for Efficiency and Effectiveness in the Role of the Council

In addition to having legal responsibilities for ensuring good governance, council members must consider the health and welfare of the citizens they represent. Council members must effectively serve as representatives of the community, which considers that they must fairly account for the diverse needs of the community when making council decisions. Effective council members encourage their constituents to be actively engaged in civic matters and to foster cohesion among members of the community.

Each member of the council is responsible for working as part of a team to establish strategic objectives and monitor progress toward achieving them. Transparency is a necessary component for ensuring that the council manages the government's resources responsibly. Citizens hold the council members and local governments accountable for carrying out their duties as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Local governments are part of larger communities. In this role, council members should advocate for the interests of their local community to other local governments and communities. Along those lines, effective council members are responsible partners in government when they also take the needs of neighboring communities into account.

Some of the duties that council members perform with effectiveness and efficiency in mind include:

  • Developing proposals that are clearly in the community's best interests
  • Planning and providing services and facilities for local citizens' use
  • Building and strengthening the community's infrastructure
  • Making strategic plans for land use
  • Raising revenue to enable the council members to perform their duties
  • Creating, passing and enforcing local laws
  • Fulfilling their duties and functions to the best of their ability
  • Not abusing their powers
  • Performing other functions related to peace, order and good governance

Board Portal Technology Supports Effective Local Government

While it's important for council members to reduce spending wherever it makes sense, sometimes it makes sense to invest money to acquire greater savings in costs and labor through more efficient operations. Investing in board portal technology creates efficiency and effectiveness in many different ways.

iCompass, a Diligent brand, board portals streamline meeting procedures, which creates efficiency. Electronic processes for online document storage, agenda creation and minutes creation support such good governance principles as accountability and transparency. Video recordings provide accountability. In addition, video recordings offer convenience for citizens who wish to view them in real time or watch them later online. Automated task reminders create efficiency, as iCompass's board portal continually nudges council members to address their responsibilities.

In essence, an iCompass board portal offers multiple ways for council members to create efficiency and effectiveness. The benefits of efficiency and effectiveness far outweigh the costs of investing in a board portal system for local governments.


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