Streamline the city’s budgeting process, improve transparency, continue to earn the GFOA award, and support long-term financial planning goals.
Known as the All Heart City and having a big town feel, the City of Bristol, Connecticut was feeling the crunch when it came to modernizing their budgeting process. While the city has consistently earned the GFOA award for excellence in budgeting, leaders knew there were better, more efficient ways of managing the process.
Before its digital transformation, the City of Bristol struggled with an outdated and inefficient budgeting process. The existing system was manual and labor-intensive, which led to longer time frames to finalize budgets and create and proofread the budget book. Their prior methods also made it difficult to look at the big picture and take a long-term approach to budgeting.
Additionally, objectively evaluating departmental project requests was a cumbersome task, which made it challenging to prioritize the city’s capital needs.
On top of this, presenting the budget in a 400-page document hindered accessibility for city officials and residents and didn’t help the city’s commitment to better transparency.
The city evaluated a few budgeting software solutions. They chose ClearGov because of its simplicity and user-friendliness, and because it addressed all of the city’s budget-related concerns, particularly the need for a system that could be used by all departments.
Before ClearGov, the budget book production process was incredibly time-consuming, with a never-ending cycle of proofreading, printing, and collating. With ClearGov’s Digital Budget Book solution, department heads could input their details directly, which freed up the finance team’s time.
The software also supported the city’s goal of better long-term planning. Departments’ wish lists were no longer taken at face value for the current year. Instead, every project was evaluated and slated for future years when the project, budget, and additional resources were better aligned.
When it came to capital requests, department heads were able to provide full project descriptions and related attachments. For example, if the parks director had a related study or plan, they could easily attach it to their request without additional emails or paper trails. This ensured the capital improvement planning committee had these resources at their fingertips, which improved the decision-making process.
Initial setup was smooth and once everything was in place, city staff had more time to focus on evaluating projects rather than juggling raw data. The city’s departments, especially those with multi-year projects, are looking forward to even smoother operations in the coming years.
ClearGov also made maintaining the city’s 23-year winning streak a reality with its handy built-in GFOA award criteria checklist. In addition to the checklist, because ClearGov automatically generated certain mandatory sections, it helped the city improve upon some of the sections they were a bit weak in. The result was a much better budget document than in previous years, with the bonus of it being website-based, more accessible, and easier to navigate and understand.
Overall, the City of Bristol has realized significant time savings during the budgeting process since implementing ClearGov.