Long Beach, Calif., records management software fosters open government
In April 2011, the Long Beach, Calif., City Council adopted an open government policy that identified transparency as a core function of local government. Shortly after the announcement, on May 1, 2011, the city clerk’s office opened a web portal to make all city contracts executed as of Jan. 1, 2011, publicly available. The portal is one of the city’s most recent steps toward using technology to offer greater transparency into the city government.
In 2009, Long Beach replaced the document management system used by various departments with an enterprise content management (ECM) system from locally based Laserfiche that could be used across the city. Today, the city clerk’s office, financial management, human resources, development services, and the police department use the ECM system to digitize, store and retrieve thousands of records. City clerk staffers scan records into the ECM system — including campaign finance reports, statements of economic interest, council agendas and staff reports, and election ballots — which then can be accessed by any city employee.
Last spring, the city began opening the ECM system to the public by making all city contracts executed as of the first of the year available through Laserfiche WebLink, a read-only public portal. With 24/7 online viewing access, residents, contractors and employees no longer have to submit formal requests for those items, simplifying access and saving time for requestors and city staff.
“Our goal is to virtualize and streamline the access and flow of records and information within the city, while ensuring security,” says Long Beach City Manager Pat West. “We have been pleased with the [ECM] system, because it easily expands and adapts to the technological and human factor needs of various departments while providing central control that is needed to ensure accountability.”
The system has an open architecture, so other software can integrate with it easily. Now, the city is integrating its legislative records software and other public portals into the ECM system to reduce efforts to store documents. “Long Beach is dedicated to fostering and promoting open and transparent government where everyone in our community can easily participate and be engaged,” says City Clerk Larry Herrera. “We are committed to exploring best practices, adopting new technologies that simplify and speed up all work processes and providing a level of customer service that is unmatched.”