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Tuesday
Mar202012

« Top Two Ways to Make Federal Advisory Committee Meetings More Open and Efficient  »

Michael is the Federal Meeting Services representative for Granicus. He has over 10 years of experience in information technology. Prior to Granicus, Mike worked at Vocus, Inc., a leading provider in Public and Government Relations Software for large businesses, government, and international organizations as an Account Executive.

Empowering people with access to information is a critical part of democracy. It builds trust and can foster greater understanding and engagement in government policies and decision-making. Nowadays, using technology to open government is a hot topic trending on twitter every day. For federal government, in particular, public scrutiny levels are high. So how can you prepare yourself to make public access easier and more cost-efficient? Today I’ll be covering two essential tips.

Recently, Granicus has seen an increasing number of federal advisory committees needing to enhance the way they manage and deliver information to the public because their old methods were too costly and too complex.

In response to these demands, Granicus has been offering on-site Meeting Services for federal advisory committees to help them reduce the time and money they spend making open meetings transparent and efficient. Instead of dedicating weeks of staff time to produce and publish accurate meeting records, Granicus staff goes on-site during advisory committee meetings to manage live records transcription and to ensure the public has faster and more in-depth access to the actions and outcomes of these meetings through webcasting, close-captioning, and a searchable online meeting portal.

Already, the Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, and many more are embracing Granicus Meeting Services to accelerate open government and to cut costs. We must note, that these services are not only useful for the federal government, they've also been useful for many state and local organizations including the Long Island Power Authority, the New York City Office of the Comptroller, the California State Treasurer’s Office, and many other agencies. They are seeing the significant advantages of a “hands-free” meeting service.

If you are going to take away any tips from this post, I’d like to make sure it’s these two points:

  1. Enhancing meeting efficiency with on-site services

    In FY 2010 there were 1,004 active advisory committees holding open meetings. To stay in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), these meetings must be must be cost-efficient. After observing the manual, time-consuming processes committees are going through to record and historically preserve the decisions happening during their meetings, we realized there was a lot of room for improvements. 

    For instance, the USDA’s Agricultural Air Quality Task Force (AAQTF) was spending weeks of staff time transcribing, editing, and producing an accurate record of their committee meetings. Instead of continuing to consume large amounts of staff time and money on FACA compliance, they prioritized an initiative to streamline this process with Granicus Meeting Services which ended up helping them meet and exceed regulations while saving money.

    Since they started using Granicus, they have reduced the staff time they spend on recordkeeping and public information management by 80%. They even report saving $10,000. Here's a breakdown of the ROI they achieved:

    Elvis Graves, Designated Federal Officer (DFO) for the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force, even said “Now staff can stay focused on the discussions happening during the meetings rather than transcribing notes,” said Graves. “Also, it’s significantly decreased the time spent finalizing and publishing meeting records—we have immediate access to the meeting recording and can publish higher quality public records within 10 days rather than 4 weeks,” he added.

    Click to read more about the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force's success.

  2. Expanding access to meetings with compelling online tools

    Under FACA and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws, public access to records and meetings is also a requirement. Rather than just publishing PDF records of the meeting outcomes several days or weeks after they occurred, Granicus’ core goal is helping federal advisory committees reach more people, with higher-quality records, in a shorter period of time.

    Not only does Granicus offer hands-free minutes creation, we also produce a rich integrated public record online within a few days of the meeting without requiring staff time. This includes the meeting video, cross-linked to all the digital supporting documents (minutes, staff reports) from the meeting. This information is archived and searchable on a centralized website that can be accessed anytime, from anywhere. Additionally, Granicus’ videos are mobile accessible, which helps committees reach a much broader audience with their meetings.

    The integrated public record produced by Granicus

Are you interested in improving the way you record and deliver your meeting information?

We’d love to hear from you! Either use the button below to request a demo from one of our experts or learn more about our Meeting Services here

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