Message from SDCI’s Director

The recent launch of our new permitting, complaint, and inspection software did not meet our expectations for effectiveness and service. Customers were initially unable to access or use the system and had trouble contacting us for help.  We took immediate steps to correct these issues, working with our partners in Seattle Information Technology (Seattle IT) to stabilize the system and add resources to the response teams. We continue to identify and correct other issues. Still, we know that this rocky roll-out had a negative impact on our customers and the public and I am very sorry about that. We’re working hard to make this right.

Many of you have asked why we changed systems in the first place, noting that our new system doesn’t do many of the things the old system did. This was a difficult choice to make, but I believe it was the correct call. Our old system was extremely out of date, no longer supported by the vendor, and failing. Our collection of custom applications that made the system more efficient were difficult to update and maintain. We also wanted to be part of a City-wide platform with more integrated services and a single interface for customers. We wanted better automation and greater process efficiencies, and better tracking. For those and other reasons, we chose a flexible, off-the-shelf system that had most of our desired functions and that could be improved over time. Right now, we’re prioritizing system enhancements that we’ll implement over the next several months.

The new system is a big change for our customers and for staff. There are several ways for customers to get help using the new system. The Seattle Services Portal has a robust Help Center that we update with new articles based on the questions you ask and the feedback you provide. We’ll be adding short videos on selected topics and we’ve just recently posted a robust FAQ. If you still need help, see our list of contacts.

Our staff continue to work hard to meet your expectations for timely and effective service. In addition to the new software, we continue to experience record high demand for permits. Our production timelines have extended beyond normal since the system launch, but we’re making progress.

I appreciate your patience as we make the transition to our new system. While the initial launch was rocky, I’m committed to finding solutions to improve the system to better serve our customers and the public.

Nathan Torgelson
SDCI Director

Provide Input on the City’s Permit System Integration Strategy

The City of Seattle is comprised of 29 departments offering more than 55 lines of business to serve the public. Several of these departments administer permitting processes and are responsible for regulatory enforcement. Often these departments administer their permitting and regulatory responsibilities independently of each other – resulting in a situation where an individual must submit multiple applications to the city in order to get approval for a single event. (For example, constructing a new building may require completing separate permitting and regulatory applications across five or more departments.)

As one of the nation’s fastest growing large cities, Seattle recognizes the opportunity to provide better service to the public and operate more efficiently by integrating its permitting processes across departments. This includes updating business processes to increase cross-department collaboration and reduce duplication, reducing non-value added steps involved in existing processes, and implementing common technologies. Already two large city departments are in the process of standardizing on a common platform for managing permitting processes, and several more are waiting to begin implementation projects on the same platform. This effort is being referred to as “Permit System Integration” (PSI), however the project is broader than permitting and involves more than information systems.

In early 2017 a consulting company will begin gathering information to help the City build a strategic business plan for this effort.  The consultants will assess the City’s current capabilities and landscape in the areas of licensing, permitting, fees, inspection, certification, compliance, and other regulatory areas.  They will use this information to help the city create an enterprise licensing and permitting business strategy and a vision for the future.

As part of this effort we’re gathering information from the public. If you would like to participate, please email Grette Benitez (Grette.Benitez@seattle.gov) or call at 206-684-3787 no later than January 10, 2017 to be scheduled for a session. We would be happy to hear your feedback as well as your thoughts and ideas about how we can excel in the future!