Rebecca Woodbury thinks employees of the city of San Rafael, Calif., should have tech tools that inspire creativity and innovative thinking in order to serve their community. She knows that’s not necessarily government’s strong suit, but she doesn’t accept that it can’t be, which explains her recognition as one of 2017’s Doers, Dreamers and Drivers.
Woodbury started her career with San Rafael eight years ago as an intern and now serves as a senior management analyst. The Bay Area city of nearly 60,000 recently set out to develop an action plan for community engagement. A couple key digital projects rose to the top of the priority list in the process — an updated city website and the city’s first customer relationship management (CRM) system.
She assembled a diverse group of internal stakeholders to ensure a breadth of interests and opinions were represented as they defined the scope of these projects. In looking for vendors, Woodbury made a conscious effort to avoid making the list of requirements overly prescriptive. Opting for an RFI rather than an RFP, she still had to coax some companies into responding. Getting involved with government can be a hard sell.
“I was really looking for partners that were going to help us achieve our goals: to engage better with our community, to provide tools to our community that they’re looking for,” she said. “When I worked with that kind of value-driven process … the vendors that rose to the top were the ones that shared the same passion we have to provide these services to the community.”
She wasn’t necessarily looking to work with startup companies on the projects either. That’s just how it worked out. Both the new site and the integrated CRM system launched last December to rave reviews. And that’s just the beginning of San Rafael’s journey to more effective citizen engagement.
“What we’re focused on in San Rafael is modernizing the way we do things and really trying to create an innovative culture,” she said. “Whether that’s through technology or just plain creativity, we’re really trying to inspire all levels of the organization.”
Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.