Hosting service adds CRM help

International City/County Management Association

A 2-year-old initiative to help smaller municipalities establish a presence on the World Wide Web is expanding to support the development of online transactions.

San Diego-based GovPartner, the technology arm of San Diego-based municipal consulting firm Berryman & Henigar, was recently selected to join the partnership that consists of the International City/County Management Association, the League of Minnesota Cities, Microsoft Corp. and St. Paul, Minn.-based Avenet LLC, which created the Web site development and content management service called GovOffice.

The GovOffice Alliance, which began in the summer of 2001 as an application service provider, provides municipal officials without any technical expertise tools to create a Web site and post and update information at a fraction of what it would cost to hire a Web development company. The alliance serves more than 400 communities in 40 states and two Canadian provinces.

GovPartner will provide the RequestPartner software system, which is basically a citizen-relationship management tool, according to Gabriela Dow, the company's vice president of communications.

With it, municipal officials can track citizen service requests, ranging from pothole complaints to acquiring a business license, and analyze trends. Performance metrics are built in to measure how quickly officials respond to requests. Currently, about 15 cities are using the product nationwide, she said.

Implementation costs start at $5,000, depending on the municipality's population, though for larger cities, it may increase to $10,000, according to the company. Thereafter the service costs about $500 per month, which includes the software license, unlimited user licenses, a commercial data center, maintenance, support and enhancements, for cities with a 50,000 population.

Dow said implementation can take one to three months, but the company would work with the city manager to create policies and train staff. It provides cities with about 100 types of customer request forms so they're not starting from scratch, she said.

Last year, GovPartner formed a partnership with another municipal engineering and architectural firm in the Midwest to offer its products to communities there. It is also actively looking to expand partnerships to other states, Dow said.

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