Web site transition
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Sep 05, 2001
A small southeastern California city, trying to capitalize on the high Internet
connection rate of its residents, plans to offer a suite of e-government
initiatives beginning next year.
"I wanted people to able to get online and do business with the city
so they didn't have to come into City Hall Monday through Friday, 8 to 5,"
said Don White, assistant city manager for Laguna Hills. White said surveys
revealed that the city of 33,000 has a 79 percent household Internet connectivity
Come January, residents and businesses will be able to go online to
file complaints or request services, such as pothole repairs, make reservations
for parks, register for recreation classes, and obtain building or public
works permits. White said the city site (www.ci.laguna-hills.ca.us) would
also offer online payment capabilities. Currently the site only posts information.
With the new software and back-end management system, White said the
city could keep track of work orders and automatically generate up-to-date
reports. Eventually, he'd like to see citizens file some minor police reports
via the Internet as well.
For the last two years, the city's been looking for a turnkey solution
to be hosted off site because Laguna Hills didn't have the money to hire
and retain information technology staff. Earlier this year, the city started
talking with GovPartner, an e-government provider and affiliate of San Diego-based
Berryman & Henigar, Inc., a municipal professional services firm.
said GovPartner's software and hosted service was attractive but there were
other reasons for the choice. Since 1992, the city has contracted with Berryman
& Henigar for engineering services, White said, adding that the city
felt confident about the firm's commitment to GovPartner. The software architecture,
he said, was developed by the city of Sunnyvale, which understood real city
applications and processes. Microsoft Corp. evaluated and refined the software.
city is the first to use all of GovPartner's software applications for building
and public works permits, service request and work-order tracking, online
reservation management and payment, and internal management system for code
enforcement, planning and zoning, and building safety.
The city is paying a GovPartner one-time $50,000 upfront fee plus $66,000
a year for hosting, maintenance and support, White said. "If we were to
do this in house, there isn't a comparison in that regard. I think financially
it was a good deal," he said.
The city is developing a grass-roots marketing campaign including
presentations at civic, school, and business groups, articles in city newsletters
and one-on-one talks with residents. The city is also building a new community
complex, which will have 20 high-speed Internet-accessible computers available
to the public and there will be some public terminals in City Hall.