California city tracks complaints
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jan 07, 2001
Bakersfield, Calif., city officials take citizen complaints so seriously
that they're installing an automated Web-based system that will track and
direct reports of problems with potholes, gripes about graffiti and moans
about missed trash pickups.
"This is simply an additional way for the public to contact the city,"
said Bob Trammell, the city's management information systems director. Residents
have been able to call or e-mail agencies with complaints, but he said the
city has had a difficult time tracking the number of complaints it receives
and what responses it gives.
"The city council has asked questions in the past that no one has been
able to give an easy answer to: How many potholes have been reported in
this particular ward? How many incidents of graffiti have been reported
in that ward?" Trammell said.
He said the city couldn't find a program to suit its needs, but with
the help of Metastorm Inc., an e-process automation software developer,
Bakersfield developed a workflow management system.
Under the centralized system, which will be ready by February, residents
will be able to link to the complaint section of the city's home page;
plug in key words or use a pull-down menu of frequent complaints; enter
optional information, such as name and address; and click a button to send
it, Trammell said. The information will be routed through the city's intranet
to the appropriate agency.
The new system, which cost about $19,000, will make city officials more
accountable and reduce paperwork, he said.
Eventually, Bakersfield plans to use the workflow management software
for budget transfers between departments to cut paperwork and save time.
The way transfers are made now, paperwork is shuffled among several department
heads and city officials, which takes a lot of time, Trammel said.
This paperwork-saving system would pass information electronically among
city officials, automatically track who has looked at it and whether it
has been approved, and even forward it to another official if someone on
the list is on vacation, Trammell said.