Steeped in history, the town of Concord, Massachusetts (pop. 17,668), was settled in 1635 and can claim as past residents Emerson, Thoreau, and Louisa May Alcott. Several centuries later, residents are committed to preserving Concord’s history, and they also appreciate the benefits that technology has to offer.
The town has had an official website since 1998. Managed by the chief technology officer/office, the website has a dedicated webmaster and allows individual departments to have web pages, which must maintain a look and feel consistent with the main local government website. These departments have staff designated to manage their web pages.
With the exception of website hosting, which is outsourced to an application service provider (ASP), website design, operations and management, integration with local government databases and e-payment/e-transaction is handled in house. The town uses cloud computing for storage and power.
Concord has a separate information technology department that handles all information technology and e-government needs for the town. The formal technology plan includes e-government.
With a number of online options for business transactions, the town is careful to also make paper options available, thus not disenfranchising any residents. The town has engaged in e-government for many purposes: to provide citizen access to local government information, to the local government, and to elected and appointed officials; and to save money and encourage citizen participation and e-democracy. Concord’s e-government initiatives include:
- Online payment of taxes, utility bills and fines/fees
- Online completion and submission of permit applications
- Online requests for and delivery of local government records; and for service, such as pothole repair
- Online registration or recreational activities and facilities, such as signing up for classes and reserving picnic areas; and for registration of property, such as animal and bicycle registration
- Online communication with elected and appointed officials
- GIS mapping and data
- Employment information and applications
- Council agendas/minutes
- Codes and ordinances
- E-newsletters and e-alerts
- Streaming video and video on demand.
Residents can pay online for curbside collection and for motor vehicle excise and property taxes. Birth, death, and marriage certificates can be ordered and paid for online.
An online calendar shows all meetings and other events with links to the meeting agendas, and residents can sign up to receive a variety of e-mailed notices about events, board of selectmen meetings, town manager’s reports, and employment opportunities.
A major barrier to e-government initiatives is not having enough technology and web staff. E-government has increased the time demands on IT staff and changed their role, even though it has also increased efficiency of business processes and improved customer service and communication with the public.
Regardless of the challenges, the town of Concord has a robust e-government program in place!
The Electronic Government 2011 survey was mailed to all city-type governments with a population of 10,000 or greater and to all county governments that have either elected executives or appointed managers. An online option was also provided. The survey response is 30%. The survey is a collaboration among Dr. Donald F. Norris, Dr. Christopher Reddick, and ICMA, and the data are proprietary.