Case Study

How America’s Largest Town “Cut Red Tape” with OpenGov

From Crossing the Tape to Cutting Red Tape


The Town of Hempstead, NY was America’s first home of horse racing. The town hosted the first race in the colonies in 1665, and for the following 150 years races were held all over Long Island before they were briefly banned by the state. With reopening, numerous race tracks were built around New York, resulting in even greater popularity for the sport.

What does horse racing have to do with a health crisis? Local government leaders are often tasked with balancing the priorities of their communities. Knowing when to hold a strong rein and when to spur on economic activity is a matter of survival with COVID-19.

Every local government has an obligation to act as a catalytic force for making the recovery more V-like instead of U-like and accelerating the recovery as appropriate. The Town of Hempstead, NY made moves early to ensure that it could support its businesses through each phase with OpenGov and restart its economy.


Spurring Growth Out of the Gate

If the Town of Hempstead were to be incorporated as a city, it would be the second-largest in New York. The Town is home to thousands of restaurants, diners, coffee shops, and cafés which closed or reduced service to take-out only with COVID-19.

To help businesses reopen safely, the Town is authorizing restaurants to apply for temporary outdoor dining permits through its recently-launched virtual permitting portal. Using OpenGov’s Permitting & Licensing suite to streamline applications and approvals, Hempstead Town is able to process more permits in less time.


Agency Type

Annual Budget
$437 Million



Permitting & Licensing

Customer Results

182 restaurants have already received permits

24/7 portal access for business owners

5-day → 3-day turnaround time

5 new permit types added to portal

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hempstead Town’s dedicated workforce is still providing residents with essential services,” said Supervisor Don Clavin. Importantly, making permitting fully virtual meant that the process was both more efficient and safer for all involved.


“The health of our residents, property owners and workforce are paramount, and by introducing OpenGov’s modern workflow software, we can enhance our vital Building Department services during the current pandemic, as well as in the future.”
Don Clavin, Town of Hempstead Supervisor



Supervisor Don Clavin announces the reopening of
Long Island businesses (Town of Hempstead, NY).

The goal of reopening restaurants with a more efficient permitting workflow is to cut the “red tape” for business owners by expediting the process with a fully-online application service and by deploying inspectors to make swift evaluations and approvals to help the restaurants get back up and running as soon as possible.


Getting Back on Course

In the first month of reopening with OpenGov, the Town of Hempstead’s Building Department processed nearly 200 applications restarting needed revenues for businesses and the Town.

With new automation capabilities and an easy, online experience for applicants, the Building Department has decreased the timeline from a five days to a three-day turnaround time for outdoor-dining permit applications. The Department is also quickly expanding its use of OpenGov with the addition of five more permit types available through the Town’s portal.

Improving the experience for business and constituent users is a top priority. As the Town moves to other phases of reopening, businesses will already have access to the portal to submit updated plans easily.


About the Town of Hempstead, NY

The Town of Hempstead is proud to be America’s largest township, and is more populous than six states. The town encompasses more than 142 square miles, with more than 65 parks and marinas. Hempstead Town is also one of the nation’s oldest towns, dating back to 1644.



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