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Better government through civic engagement

No More Printing, Mailing, Scanning (or Hassle): The Future of "Out for Signature" in Government

No More Printing, Mailing, Scanning (or Hassle): The Future of "Out for Signature" in Government
What if I told you that you could eliminate almost all the paper, and the associated costs, from the meeting process? From agenda creation to agreement finalization, you could streamline the entire meeting process from inside a single solution. Too good to be true? It’s not. We’re pleased to announce the integration of DocuSign’s eSignature tool into Agenda and Minutes, part of our Legislative Management solution. The digital portal introduces a secure, paperless signature capability that will help governments save time and money on the legislative process. Consider this: an Intellicap study found that the average savings per electronically signed document is $22.18 and the average turnaround time is reduced by 13.5 days (97%). When I say it’ll save you time and money, I’m not kidding. Get a handle on all the agreements and contracts your meeting process produces with eSignature capabilities. Even with the automation that comes with Agenda and Minutes, there use......
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The Solar Onboarding Experience Needs a Refresh

The Solar Onboarding Experience Needs a Refresh
The below is a guest article I published in North American Clean Energy earlier this month. In 2015, the solar industry celebrated three historic moments — in Paris, world leaders came together and agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach zero emissions by the middle of the 21st century; in Washington, D.C., Republicans and Democrats briefly put aside their differences and voted to extend tax credits for wind turbines and solar panels; and, fortuitously, this came on the heels of new federal regulations mandating a 32 percent cut in carbon from power plants that pollute our air by 2030. But before this is proclaimed a miracle for the planet, there is a government-created problem, from the horse and buggy era, which must be dealt with. And the solution may lie in our cities and counties. Disrupting the permit expediter Since 2008, residential solar panel installations are up nearly 2,000 percent. T......
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Evanston 311: City Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary of Its Successful 311 Call Center

Evanston 311: City Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary of Its Successful 311 Call Center
This post is part of our weeklong celebration of 311 Day on March 11th. Use the hashtag #Getthe311 to follow the celebration on Twitter. ---- Earlier this month, the City of Evanston, Illinois, celebrated the five-year anniversary of its successful 311 call center. The success of the program can be summed up by this July article in the Chicago Tribune. Columnist Christine Wolf describes how, following an accident involving her son, Evanston 311 helped drive change that brought improved signage to a dangerous intersection. “Knowing I had someone to call about an issue important to me kept the lines of communication open and positive – a much-needed reminder for this working mom,” she wrote. Since implementation, the City has received 678,101 calls, 132,270 requests, 9,916 live chats and 1,459 texts. What makes Evanston 311 worth celebrating is the City's commitment to public service. In addition to a 311 line, the City offer......
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The Open Meeting Law Experience in Westwood, Massachusetts: How We Improved Transparency and Streamlined the Entire Meeting Process

The Open Meeting Law Experience in Westwood, Massachusetts: How We Improved Transparency and Streamlined the Entire Meeting Process
First, let me say that I am not an Open Meeting Law expert, nor is my interpretation of the law fact. This is an opinion piece on how here in Westwood, Massachusetts, we have used the Open Meeting Law to keep our residents informed and remain as transparent as possible with the way our community leaders make decisions. I have worked for the Town of Westwood as the Executive Assistant for the last eight years with the primary responsibility of supporting the Town Administrator in preparing packets for the biweekly Board of Selectmen meetings, including organization of the reports, attachments and proposed actions and maintaining all the records in the office. Massachusetts Open Meeting Law (OML), M.G.L. Chapter 30A, §§18-25 was created to require communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to be transparent in their governance. Westwood takes OML very seriously and we follow the law to the best of our a......
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4 Ways Civic Technology Drives Results for Policy Outcomes

4 Ways Civic Technology Drives Results for Policy Outcomes
The below is an excerpt of my guest post on National League of Cities’ Cities Speak blog last week. You can read the full post here. Municipal laws and codes have been forged over decades and are currently facing challenges keeping up with emerging and rapidly expanding regulatory issues such as solar/clean energy and the legalization of marijuana and initiatives like the White House’s Startup in a Day challenge. Even with the best-intentioned legislation, public policy initiatives can stall without the proper tools to enable easy and efficient compliance. So how do governments balance the additional workload required to address these emerging issues with limited staff resources? How can cities keep up with the demands and expectations of their citizens? Fortunately, civic technology, which provides targeted solutions for governments to solve real problems, is experiencing exponential growth, reaching not just urban cities, but also suburbs, farm towns and remote resort villages. In ......
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Behind the Scenes: Lee Ann Slinkard in Professional Services

Behind the Scenes: Lee Ann Slinkard in Professional Services
How did you end up at Accela? My entire career has been in services. I initially thought I wanted to be a researcher. I was in a PhD program at UCSF in Health Psychology, and I made money on the side by helping nurses get the stats for their studies interpreted. I decided I really wanted to be more applied instead of a researcher. So, I got a job with a healthcare software company as a trainer and project manager, and ended up as SVP of Operations by the time I left. I was doing account management for a healthcare consulting company that was acquired by IBM. While I was at IBM, one of Accela’s board members contacted me and asked if I would think about coming over and helping them run a profitable services organization. After about a year of interviewing, we came to an agreement, and I’ve been here eve......
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