by Bill Boyd
Mayor Guinta should make a greater commitment to E-government and "one-stop shopping" by expanding their on-line capability and making the city's website more user-friendly.
Currently, there are some requests that can be ordered online; other requests require the citizen to download the form and mail it in. Mayor Guinta should look to expand its online opportunities so that city transactions are seamless and paperless. The ability to download forms should continue to be made available for those not comfortable transmitting information online, however, the transformation should be made so that the citizens of Manchester and its employers can transact with the city from their own home or work "on-line" instead of "in-line" at City Hall.
Using newer technolgies, business and companies can submit applications and permit requests and pay for them online. Homeowners and members of the general public could be able to view tax cards and assessor maps as well. If someone wanted a copy of their tax card or the lot on an assessor's map, they could pay for it online and print it off of their home computer. In this same vein, Mayor Guinta should maximize the city's usage of technology to allow car registrations, tax payments, and parking tickets to be paid online as well. Newer technolgies shouldn't be limited to its citizenry, though; Manchester should also use technology for e-commerce purposes like vendor payments, bids and proposals, and online procurement.
The bottom line? Transactions will be faster. Staff will spend less time dealing with the minuitia of purchasing and more time being responsive to their job requirements. Departmental costs for postage, printing and paper will be lower. The city's overall purchasing function will be easier to manage and most likely allow the city to purchase items at the lowest price possible. Ultimately, department heads can manage their budgets more efficiently which is the bottom line that Mayor Guinta is seeking to accomplish.
One investment that, over time, would create an efficiency is bringing laptop technology into the Aldermanic Chambers. Initially, the idea that each alderman should have a laptop to conduct municipal business was laudible, but political unfeasible as long as Manchester's children didn't have access to that same technology. The Union Leader was quick to take Alderman Roy to task and rightly so. However, there is no reason why the chambers couldn't be equipped with laptops at each seat with WiFi capability.
As previously stated, the Agenda items could be downloaded into the laptop via email and that information would be at the individual's fingertips. The aldermen would have access in the aldermanic chamber to review the materials and, at the same time, could also be available to meet with constituents on issues affecting them in the ward or citywide. The aldermanic committees would benefit as well.
With WiFi capacity, reporters (and members of the general public) equipped with laptops could have access to the agenda as well. Reporters would have the added benefit of being able to type their story and transmitting it back to their editor. With these factors, a multimedia component could be added to the chamber as well allowing members of the general public, without the benefit of a laptop, to follow along with the multimedia display.
Manchester has moved from being an old-line city with an old-world economy to a new-line city with a new-world economy. Mayor Guinta represents what is new and growing about Manchester. E-government represents even better opportunities for its citizens and its businesses, and hopefully, Mayor Guinta will embrace and unlock the efficiencies e-government can bring to Manchester.