Smart Governance Now is a project designed to transform the way state and local governments function, interact with their constituents, and implement policy.
A More Connected Government Means More Bang for the Buck
Around the country, there are tens of thousands of elected officials. In Lansing alone, around 140 State Legislators meet to discuss policy, enact laws, and make essential decisions on budgetary matters year-round. And that’s not to mention the countless amount of appointed bureaucrats that it takes to ‘run the show,’ or at least that’s what we’re told. The goal is to allow for greater connectivity between lawmakers from around the state and the United States collectively.
It’s a shame when a lone public servant from Somewhere, Anywhere, has concocted a fantastic way for the local city hall to effectively consolidate services in order to meet the financial crunch, if his counterparts from Elsewhere, Land, are unaware of his bright idea. While tried-and-tested solutions – and failed experiments – abound, it is as though they remain in a vault only to be seen by those that happen to stumble upon it. But not anymore! With an online networking gadget geared toward legislators and government officials, initiatives can be shared easily, far and wide. More than a message board and not quite Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn, Smart Governance strives to eliminate the barriers of modern communication means and to boost efficiency and effectiveness in government. Also, this design can be applied to any professional sector, public or private.
Elected officials will be organized by level – i.e. local, county, state, and federal (Congress) – but will appear within the same database for simplicity’s sake. The policymakers are able to network amongst each other, posting their thoughts on an issue or experience with a certain method of operation, and the public can monitor their work, too. For instance, representatives from Michigan could establish a forum on the website for communication directly involving the Great Lakes State. Because inter-government and inter-state correspondence is strongly encouraged as per the project’s objective, the entire database is open for the posting of thoughts on any relevant subject. Transparency and accountability are at a premium in today’s society, and this mechanism serves to fuel the desires of “we the people.” This forum, however, is not intended to be a megaphone for the public – that is, after all, what Facebook and the Internet are for. I believe that the “marketplace of ideas” must be embraced by the institutional factions of our democratic system; Smart Governance offers a convenient incentive for action.
How does it work?
To start out, each State Legislature (i.e. House, Senate, unicameral) will be sent information on the project and asked to forward it on to individual members. From there, County and local governments can request information, a formal invitation to participate. Online content will be provided, as well, for all to see. Appropriate advertisement of the final product is a must. User feedback will be used to determine necessary adjustments, room for improvement.
What’s the benefit?
Simply put: if a local municipality, such as the City of Lansing, has had success with a certain policy in government, like a tax break for small businesses, their story could help spur similar action in, say, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, etc. Smart Governance calls for the sharing of ideas, a discussion of what works and what does not – which may be fully adaptable or area-dependent. There is always more to learn about the fruits of good (and bad) public policy from seemingly remote, and even neighboring, regions of the state and country. Knowledge is power!
Learn more at SmartGovernanceNow.wordpress.com.