GSS Tip of the Month

Check out how you can export your standard reports and use them in other programs such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, or Adobe Reader!

Click Here for Exporting Reports from GSS

Now Available! GSS Version 14

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Enhancements and modifications included in this upgrade are based on direct feedback from our clients!  Here are a few highlights of this upgrade:

Construction Project Manager

  • New Jersey technical forms have been revised.
  • Commercial Farm Building Use Group has been added.
  • Permit Activity log fields have been added to show additional fees waived.

Property Maintenance Manager

  • Credit card payment recording fields have been added to the Payment tab.
  • The Warning Report will now include a notification that summons exist against a property.

Zoning Manager

  • Configuration has been added to allow a full description of the selected Use Group.

Land Use Manager

  • A configurable field has been added for labeling/naming.
  • Additional date fields have been added on the application screen.

Civic Complaint Manager

  • Users are now allowed to view all complaints and tasks.

Periodic Inspection Tracking

  • Two new violation reports have been added:  Notice of Violation and Notice of Order.

Pet License Manager

  • The ability to pull records from the Tax Database has been added.

Interdepartmental Query

  • Search criteria has been added to the Site Address

The GSS Version 14 PERF List contains complete details on these as well as many other changes and enhancements that are included in this upgrade.  Please contact us at (314) 991-2440, ext. 3066 or via email @ upgrade@mitchellhumphrey.com to request the upgrade and let us know what method of delivery you prefer.  There are two options available for delivery of the upgrade:

  1. An email that will contain a link which allows you to download the necessary files and instructions, or
  2. CDs that will be shipped to your office.

Join one of our webcasts!  We’ll be covering the new features and functions in this version; as well as instructions on installing the upgrade on your system.

Click here to schedule your Complimentary GSS Version 14 Webcast

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Why are Erie County’s Taxpayers so Happy?

How would you like to start imagining yourself with more time, money and efficiency?  Better yet – can you see yourself ‘error proof’ and able to access valuable information at the drop of a dime?

Well, that is exactly what our 25 yearlong client, Erie County, did!

Erie County has discovered that giving the ‘green light’ to Go Green has saved their taxpayers money, improved public service and, overall, added time and value to their county efforts.  In the article, Erie County, Erie schools going green by saving paper and cash, written by Erie Times-News, the Erie School District saved almost 4 million sheets of paper and $22,000 in the last school year, just by discouraging unnecessary printing.  The county also plans to save around $6,000 a year on ledger paper alone, just by switching to eStatements.  These savings do not include the cost savings for printers, toner, ink, or the routinely average 200 page-long council agendas which are now viewed mainly electronically.

According to Reduce.org, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.  Multiply that by the number of employees you have, and can you see how going paperless could save your business money?

Switching over to eStatements also saves the county courts a significant amount of time, since banks automatically match cleared checks. And that’s not all.  Erie County has improved its public service by digitalizing court, property, and estate records to be accessed by the public, free of charge, at the courthouse.

You can decide if Going Paperless = More $$$ + Better Service.  Put that extra time and money toward more important things, because you, your company, your employees, and your citizens deserve it!

For more information about going paperless using Mitchell Humphrey software, call 1-800-237-0028 or visit us at www.mitchellhumphrey.com or www.fasttrackgov.com.  To learn more about our products and services, visit our online video today.

FastTrackGov Website · FastTrackGov on Twitter · FastTrackGov on Facebook

Government Advances in Citizen Services

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From Kim Schaefer, CPA:

FastTrackGov conducted an on-line survey of municipal governments across the United States in an effort to assess the level at which these organizations are implementing collaborative strategies to improve efficiency and transparency while providing timely and relevant information to their citizens.

SURVEY CONCLUSIONS:

We found that two-thirds of our respondents provide some on-line citizen services, with the most popular being Citizen Requests/Complaint Tracking. Over one-half of the organizations have a Citizen Request/Complaint Tracking portal in operation currently, with another one-third planning to implement one in the future.

Of the organizations that provide for on-line submittal, parks and recreation and pet licensing also provided for on-line payments in all cases. Permitting and occupational and business licenses allowed on-line payments in approximately one-third of the organizations allowing on-line submittal.

While on-line citizen services are important to these organizations, very few have implementation projects in progress currently and only approximately ten percent have plans to implement on-line citizen services in the next twelve months. The primary obstacle sited is a lack of budget. When budget dollars are tightened new technologies are often the first to be cut. The best way around this is to find technologies with proven return on investment by looking to other organizations to see what they are doing.

Many are also looking into new, subscription-based offerings to provide the technological advantage without requiring the capital investment necessary to run traditional software applications.

DETAILED SURVEY FINDINGS:

The majority of respondents provide their citizens with on-line citizen services.

Do you currently provide your citizens with a portal on your website through which they can access on-line services and/or complete on-line transactions?

graph1

Citizen requests and pet licensing are the most popular on-line services at 89% and 58% respectively with building permits and business licensing each generating significant visibility with approximately 50% of organizations currently providing these on-line.

Indicate categories for which you currently provide on-line accessible application and/or renewal forms.

graph4

Nearly two-thirds of citizen requests and complaints can be submitted on-line at respondent organizations. While the respondents providing parks and recreation provided for approximately 40% of those requests to be handled on-line.

Indicate categories for which forms can be completed and submitted on-line.  

graph5

Of those organizations providing on-line form submittal, many also provided for on-line payments for certain services. For example, 100% of the parks and recreation requests and pet licenses submitted on-line provided for on-line payment.
 
Indicate categories for which on-line payments can be submitted along with completed on-line forms.

graph6

Over one-third of organizations responding to the survey currently provide some level of on-line citizen service. Of those organizations that do not currently provide on-line citizen services, over half said they had future plans for adding them.

Do you provide your citizens with a single, on-line location where they can request services, report problems, issue complaints, and complete citizen satisfaction surveys?

graph2

The current state of the economy is certainly reflected in the current lack of implementation projects and the absence of projects in the next twelve months. However, there is a general optimism that as Gov 2.0 becomes more prevalent and the return on investment of these projects is clearly identified, this technology will continue to be adopted.

Please indicate your current level of on-line service adoption for each of the areas listed.

graph7

FastTrackGov Website     FastTrackGov on Twitter     FastTrackGov on Facebook

Are Local Governments Using Twitter?

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From Kim Schaefer, CPA:

While researching the myriad ways in which government entities communicate with the people they serve, we decided to see how many have turned to what we consider the newest social media storm, Twitter. Although Twitter has been in existence for a little over three years now, it has really started picking up steam. According to comScore in June 2009, Twitter surpassed all other social media outlets in unique visitor growth at 2,681%. While Facebook racked up a significantly larger increase in unique visitors, at these growth rates, Twitter is sure to catch up soon.

We should note that we decided to narrow our research down to organizations within the United States for now. According to the USGS, there are 3,141 county and county equivalents in the United States and the District of Columbia; ² and the US Census Bureau has the number of incorporated places at 19,355, which includes cities, towns, and boroughs. Of these, 44 counties and 96 cities and towns are using Twitter. This does not include agencies such as visitors’ bureaus or emergency management departments, fire and police departments, or public officials. The goal of our research was to look specifically at the cities and counties that are using Twitter to communicate; to see how they are using it, the messages they are posting, and to try to understand their goals for using the social media site. We also checked the actual population from the 2000 census as we were conducting our research. In many cases this is much lower than current estimates, but we were most interested in determining whether there was any correlation between the size of the city and the likelihood that they were using social media. It is interesting to note that there is no noticeable relationship. Cities range from Remington, VA with a 2000 population of 624 to Philadelphia, PA with a 2000 population of 1,517,550.

Of the 96 cities we found using Twitter, two of them, San Francisco and Albuquerque, were using Twitter for 311 Service. The remainder post news feeds and city events. We post our list of weekly favorites every Friday with the Twitter #FollowFriday hashtag. Two of the cities, which are noted in the list below, have protected their updates. We found this to be a bit unusual given the transparency and sunshine laws effective in most states. Permission to view their updates was not requested, so we are not sure if it would have been granted or not.

We contacted a number of cities to determine whether they have established objectives for their use of Twitter. Lawrence, KS, @lawrenceks, responded that they do have established policies, which you can tell from their feed. It is consistent with links to the news archives of their web site; tweets about other Twitter accounts or web sites that may be of interest to locals, such as @TopekaMetroKDOT, @lawrencelibrary, and http://lawrencetransit.org/; and responses to citizen’s questions.

San Francisco’s @SF311 came on-line on June 2, 2009. @fasttrackgov asked one of the Twitter support reps whether the SF311 site was integrated with any of their back office systems, or if there were any costs associated with the establishment of @SF311. The city responded that since Twitter is a free service, there have been no costs to the city of establishing the service and it is not integrated with the back office systems.

Albuquerque’s @cabq came on-line on June 26, 2009 with this feed: CABQ 311 is now available @cabq! DM or @ us your questions, requests for service, or pics of problems. We’ll write back ASAP. http://www.cabq.gov/8:17 AM Jun 26th from web.

As far as we could tell, none of the 44 counties we researched is using Twitter for 311 Service or dedicated two-way communication with their constituents. Many of the counties are using the site to post interesting information combined with news about the county. Road closings, construction projects, and crime topped the list for news.

The utilization of Twitter by more cities and counties for citizen communications and for 311 Service is certainly expected to be seen in the future. The explosion of Gov 2.0 has both positive and negative aspects. Positively, it provides innumerable ways to rapidly disseminate information, the ability for others to spread your message for you, and a low-cost medium for communicating. Negatively, you have no control over what is being said about you by others, whether it is good or bad. Governments can follow the lead of major corporations and monitor their “brand” by establishing their own Twitter account. This is a way of following what their constituents are saying and keeping their thumb on the pulse of the community. With the current fiscal crisis faced by many, a free service that can help you distribute information to your constituents, immediately find out what they are thinking, and converse with them (in transmissions limited to 140 characters or less) can be a very beneficial tool.

¹ “Facebook Overtakes MySpace”, JUNE 18, 2009 http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007145
² Source: United States Geological Survey. URL: http://gnis.usgs.gov/
³ Many thanks to GovTwit, which is an excellent source of Twitter information regarding all things government. All of the organizations listed above are not listed in the GovTwit Directory. If you would like to be listed, please tweet @GovTwit.

FastTrackGov Website     FastTrackGov on Twitter     FastTrackGov on Facebook