Orange County, VA
To find an easy-to-use, efficient, and sustainable solution to modernize the county’s capital improvement planning and budget book preparation processes.
Orange County, Virginia previously created its budget like a lot of other local governments: the old-fashioned way, using Excel and Word to create a PDF budget book. Although they could export certain data in Excel tables from their accounting software, each table still had to be manually formatted in order to work in their budget book. Charts and other visuals were created manually in Excel and then pasted into the budget document. For the county’s capital improvement plan, they used database software to compile and prioritize requests before creating a separate CIP document.
The entire process was slow and disjointed because none of the data was automatically generated or linked between documents. There was a constant risk of error, which resulted in a lot of time spent on reconciliation.
The breaking point was when the database they were using for capital budgeting was no longer supported. Additionally, the accountant who had always been responsible for creating the budget book was retiring. It was a double whammy and Glenda and Assistant County Administrator Stephanie Straub, who led the CIP process, agreed it was time for a change.
Instead of continuing to manually cobble the budget together in various programs, Glenda and Stephanie began searching for an easy-to-use and more efficient solution to gather capital requests and create the county’s budget book.
They scheduled a demonstration of ClearGov’s Digital Budget Book and Capital Budgeting solutions. Staff agreed that it looked easy to use for such a professional-looking result. They also had some neighboring localities already using the software, and they liked the way their digital budget books looked. One significant selling point was that they could continue to use the budget submittal and preparation process they have and like, which integrates with their financial system. But now they could easily export data to be used for the budget document in ClearGov.
In the first year, they used ClearGov’s Capital Budgeting solution for the entire capital improvement planning process, from requests to adoption. They used Digital Budget Book only for the document preparation for their budget while relying on their ERP for submissions and approvals.
Glenda and her team appreciate how easy navigation is with Digital Budget Book, compared to scrolling through several hundred pages of a PDF document. They have received positive feedback from Department Heads and financial advisors about being able to use the digital book as a reference for performance measures and position control, among other things. Compared to their old PDF budget presentation, the online, interactive access is more polished and professional looking, and it makes it easier to locate specific data.
While the county is no stranger to receiving the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award (they’ve been winning since 2018!), Glenda thinks they’ll score even better with ClearGov. She said, “As you know, each year we must respond to the comments of the reviewers from the prior year’s document. I think that the ClearGov platform will enable us to spend more time addressing improvements and less time on the construction of the PDF itself.”