Case Study

Lessons From a Code Enforcement Clerk on Becoming a Lean Government with ePermitting

About Central Falls, RI Code Enforcement

As a Senior Code Enforcement Clerk in Central Falls, RI, Venuz Zayas is a central hub for permitting activity. Day in, day out, she’s on the forefront of communications with government employees across departments and a slew of constituent applicants–and now, the bulk of her work is completed simply through her keyboard. Between applications, inspections, reporting, and more, Zayas has a lot to manage. With OpenGov Citizen Services, all of the information she needs is at her fingertips. This easy access to information is one of the biggest changes Zayas has seen since moving from a paper permitting system to cloud-based permitting with OpenGov.

 

Challenge

Decentralized paper operations and inefficient communication

 

Solution

OpenGov Citizen Services

 

Facilitating Communications and Access to Information

“Things were pretty difficult before, and the information wasn’t always updated the way it is now. With OpenGov Citizen Services, anyone here in the office can open the permit record and know the exact history and what’s going on with the properties,” Zayas explains.

Population
19347

Agency Type
Town

Annual Budget
$40M-150M

Role
Community Development
IT

Region
Northeast

Solution
Citizen Services

Customer Results

5+ hours per week in time savings for reporting

Increased productivity for city staff

Improved transparency for permitting information

Better public trust as a result of communication tools

Having an interface that clearly organizes all relevant information on a permit or a property into one place has been key to keeping the City of Central Falls on the same page. The City makes good use of the ability to upload documents attached to each specific permit so that anyone can see the plans, loaning decisions, and construction blueprints that go with each property.

The platform’s capacity for internal communication also allows the staff—from code enforcement, to the fire department, to inspectors, and more— to input all of their notes and memos into the same place. Since operating with attachments and centralized communication, Zayas has seen productivity levels increase. What used to be a clunky back and forth between Zayas and the fire department, is now a string of notes and straightforward dissemination.

 

Back-end workflow tools like auto-assigning tasks to specific staff members to complete inspections
and other required steps greatly improves efficiency within the approvals process

 

“My bosses and everybody, we can all share the same information. We’re all able to understand what transpired, at what time, with each project, and it’s very productive.”
Venuz Zayas, Senior Code Enforcement Clerk, Central Falls, RI

 

Becoming a Lean Government

From the start, Zayas was eager to have Central Falls launch OpenGov Citizen Services for their permitting processes. The City was aiming to become a more lean government, which meant improved online services and better communication.

As part of the Rhode Island Statewide ePermitting Initiative, Zayas had seen other communities implement Citizen Services and she was keen on the potential upside of a new online system.

“They had started with OpenGov Citizen Services in all these different cities and towns already, and when I heard we were next, I was very excited. I was waiting for this, for this moment to happen. The minute I was put to training, I loved it. It was the easiest, most effective way to go about doing permits. I’ve learned so much, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Zayas had initial hesitations around how her colleagues would react to the new cloud-based software, but she says that now that they’ve gone through all of the motions with the customers, with the staff, and between different offices, things have been great. Even if an obstacle does arise, Zayas notes that the OpenGov support team is extremely responsive in resolving issues.

As for Zayas’s favorite feature, it’s Reports.

 

 

Custom reporting within OpenGov Citizen Services enables staff in Central Falls, RI
to quickly prioritize their workload and code enforcement assignments.

 

“I do what we call our monthly reports for electrical, for building, for plumbing, for all of those, and everything is all set up in the computer for each month. It would take me forever to do this before, and now it’s all in the system.”

For anyone in government who’s thinking about making a change to their permitting process, Zayas wants to emphasize how helpful OpenGov Citizen Services has been for the building department operations, issuing permits, and reporting on inspections. Central Falls has found that not only does the software save them time, but more importantly, it helps them establish and develop better relationships with community members.

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