Village of Oak Park, IL for the Alliance for Innovation
For years, the Village of Oak Park suffered from a reputation of being a difficult municipality with which to do business. Recognizing that this was a major obstacle to expanding our tax base the Village Board in 2013 gave staff direction to take appropriate and aggressive steps to enhance the customer experience within Village Hall. Embracing this call to “think outside the box” the Village Manager in collaboration with the Village Board instituted several key initiatives that have transformed village operations.
A new staff structure was introduced combining 4 previously individual departments into one. The new Development Customer Services Department creates more efficient internal coordination of processes that cross previous department responsibilities and enhances staff communication and responsiveness. The new Department adopted the following mission statement: We are inspired to enhance the quality of life in the Village by providing efficient, consistent, cost-effective, courteous and prompt customer services designed to encourage investment in our community.
Previously, the Department was hampered by an outdated computer system for tracking permits, inspections and licenses. The Village invested in a new operating system, City View, which allows for interdepartmental coordination of numerous processes. Process workflows from 8 internal departments/divisions were reviewed and revised and built into the new system to provide for seamless service throughout Village Departments. City View’s on-line service allows customers to access permit information, schedule inspections, and submit permits applications and plans electronically. Additionally, utilizing Smart Phone Technology all inspections are now done electronically.
Additionally, the Village determined that we could not staff for the unevenness of construction seasons without sacrificing customer satisfaction. The Village contracted with HR Green to provide plan review and inspection services. The addition of contract staff has resulted in significant reduction in process time between permit application and issuance with most permits executed within 2 weeks of application. Additionally, we are able to schedule inspections within 24 hours of request.