We’re proud to announce the introduction a new set of decision-maker features that help modern public hearings. These features eliminate staff inefficiency, reduce dependency and cost associated with the use of paper, and improve government transparency for constituents.
Currently, the public hearings are generally facilitated as follows:
- A “Staff Report” is assembled by staff that contains a copy of all the materials relating to the cases that will be heard at a given public hearing. Each case includes application materials, maps, comment letters and so on. Staff Reports can easily be dozens of pages. One is delivered to each decision-maker (i.e. a City Council Member or Planning Commissioner) for each public hearing.
- The decision-maker reads through the Staff Report in advance of the public hearing.
- At the public hearing, the staff and applicants make their presentation and then citizens are able to standup and make a comment that is heard and acknowledged by the decision-makers who are present.
The toolset we’ve released offers this same workflow, online.
All the materials relating to cases are uploaded to the website and an agenda and “staff report” are now created automatically. Staff email decision-makers a special URL that takes them to an agenda for the upcoming public hearing that lists the cases that they need to review. Decision-makers can review each case in advance of the public hearing.
When decision-makers review citizens comments on a case online, we track and acknowledge it online such that the citizen can view and see their feedback was reviewed.
When we shared the concept of this decision-maker toolset and asked the Lakewood Planning Commissioners for feedback, nearly all of them said they preferred to go paperless. Besides the obvious sustainability benefits of being paperless (huge report delivered to a dozen folks every two weeks is a LOT of paper), the online staff report is also much faster to assemble: it is automatic.
While we’ve rolled this out now it will not be tested with live cases until Jan 2018. We’re excited to see how it is adopted!
If you’re interested in learning more about how to bring truly public hearings to your part of the country, please contact us.
We hope everyone has a wonderful and rejuvenating holiday.