We wanted to get more public input into our annual budget hearings. These meetings determine the fate of important programs in our county, like healthcare, art programs and public safety. We look to the public to determine which programs' budgets should be increased, reduced, or cut. Considering the impact these meetings potentially have on our residents, it always surprised me that only 5-10 people from the public would participate.
In the summer of 2011, I helped launch a campaign to increase civic participation in County budget decisions. Google Forms played a big role in the success of the program. We created a Google Form on our website that surveyed residents on about 60 local programs. The response was huge: over 1,000 people filled out the form -- over a 20,000% increase in public participation! This simple form gave residents who weren't able to attend the budget hearing a chance to voice their opinions, something that wasn't readily available before.
Once the results were in, we shared the data directly with the County Manager's office and the Board of Commissioners, who determine the annual budget. The feedback from our residents weighed heavily on the outcome of our local programs, and is now a huge factor in how the budget is determined.
Thanks in large part to Google Forms, I'm proud to say that civic activism is at an all-time high at Fulton County