If you couldn’t wait to say goodbye to 2020, you’re in good company. It was a turbulent, unsettling year that took a heavy toll.
For local and state governments nationwide, the events of 2020 also brought certain issues into sharper focus. Chief among them is a lack of flexibility that leaves many courts and clerks unable to operate seamlessly in times of crisis.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many government offices were forced to shut down entirely—along with their sole means of meeting their constituents’ needs.
Soon after, nationwide protests reminded us that criminal justice reform is still an urgent concern. Whereas government operations faced public scrutiny before, they are now under intense pressure to make changes that ensure fairness and transparency are never in doubt.
With the lessons of 2020 firmly ingrained, what do courts, clerks, and other government offices need to do going forward?
At the start of this new year, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Government teams face unprecedented demands amid looming budget shortfalls. The only path to sustainability is to advance beyond a pre-2020 mindset and model that aren’t suited to today’s challenges.
Navigating the “New Normal”: 5 Essential Capabilities for Courts and Clerks
Early last year, I wrote about the top 3 concerns facing government operations in 2020. The crisis and turmoil we saw in 2020 only heightened these concerns. In particular, the gulf between traditional compliance practices/processes and a lean, efficient, service-focused approach has widened considerably.
The good news is, 2021 offers state and local governments tremendous opportunities to effect meaningful change. If you’re looking to advance larger goals through improved efficiency and service, be sure to focus on these five imperatives.
1. Continuity of Service
Priority one for courts, clerks, and other government offices should be readiness to provide uninterrupted service during any unexpected closure. Communications, account self-service, payment arrangements, and payment processing—all should continue seamlessly, even if employees and constituents can’t meet face-to-face and conduct business in a brick-and-mortar setting.
“Even after public health and safety concerns fade, Americans will have become accustomed to shopping, communicating and conducting business online. In the wake of COVID-19, society will have become even more expectant of paperless, online, secure and always-open services.” – “How government should change after COVID-19” (GCN.com)
2. A Compliance Process That’s Designed to Help
Traditional means of recovering fines and fees leave constituents at a disadvantage. They’re often caught by surprise when they receive collection notices, and a lack of viable payment options makes it tough to comply. Poor engagement, early escalation, and inflexibility is a perfect formula for low resolution rates and irate citizens.
To help more constituents resolve their cases more quickly, courts and clerks must begin nurturing compliance starting on day one of case creation. With personalized communications delivered through their preferred digital channels and convenient payment processing available 24/7, constituents can meet their obligations with ease and enjoy the same type of frictionless experience they’ve come to expect as consumers.
3. A Low-Cost, High-Yield Operation
With funding becoming increasingly scarce, government teams must do more with less. Many employees face overwhelming workloads, bogged down with manual tasks that crowd out high-value functions such as helping constituents with complex needs or finding new ways to improve operations.
Flexible workflow automation technology—available today with no capital expenditures—can enhance capabilities, streamline processes, and reduce compliance risks all at once. In an automated environment, staff are free and empowered to use their time more effectively. Nurturing compliance and meeting reporting requirements not only require less time and effort, but also produce far greater results.
4. More Actionable Insights for Government Officials
Having timely, actionable performance data is crucial for effective decision making. Compliance-related dashboard metrics—which can be broken down by case type, communication channel, and more—provide the visibility you need to proactively improve operations, service, and recovery rates.
For example, with the ability to effectively track account resolution, you can identify uncompliant accounts before they’re forwarded to third-party agencies to help constituents avoid additional punitive measures and fees. Analytics that help reveal important trends (for example, communication channels that work best for a given case type) will enable to you refine your strategies to improve constituent satisfaction and resolve more cases more quickly.
5. Sophisticated, Tailored Reporting
Creating regular and ad-hoc customized reports using time-saving reporting tools is important for the sake of public transparency and staying in step with reporting requirements.
With a robust catalog of pre-loaded government-specific reports at your fingertips, you can use graphic elements (charts, dashboards, etc.) to visually represent how well you’re allocating taxpayer dollars and fulfilling your mission. You can also disseminate reports to a variety of stakeholders with ease. A reporting process that once took hours each week can now be completed in minutes.
Does Your Government Operation Meet the GOLD Standard for Excellence?
Government Operations Leading with Distinction (GOLD) meet the highest standards for efficiency, compliance, and public service. By alleviating budgetary pressures and offering an outstanding constituent experience, GOLD Standard operations have what it takes to effectively address post-2020 challenges.
Curious about how you compare, and how to get to GOLD? Download the GOLD Standard scorecard and find out!
With over 30 years’ experience serving 450+ state and local governments through close partnerships and ongoing innovation, Ontario Systems has helped our government clients meet their needs for continuity, efficiency, and transparency throughout the 2020 pandemic crisis. To learn more, visit our compliance solution page.
Nurture Compliance with Efficiency and Ease
If you’re looking to bring compliance processes up to speed for better service and results, get started today with a free demo of our government collection solutions. You’ll see right away what leading-edge technology and dedicated support can help you achieve.
Disclaimer: Ontario Systems is a technology company and provides this blog article solely for general informational and marketing purposes. You should not rely on the content of this material for any other purpose or as specific guidance for your company. Ontario Systems’ advice, services, tools and products described herein do not guarantee compliance with any law or industry standard. You are ultimately responsible for your own company’s actions and compliance efforts. Because everyone’s situation is different, you must consult your own attorneys, accountants, and/or other advisors to obtain specific advice on your company’s compliance, legal, tax, regulatory and/or other business needs. Despite Ontario Systems’ efforts to provide current and up-to-date information, you need to recognize that the information contained herein may become outdated quickly and may contain errors and/or other inaccuracies.
© 2021 Ontario Systems, LLC. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is subject to change. Reproduction of this publication is not permitted without the express permission of Ontario Systems, LLC.
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