Labor-intensive processes that were, by definition, inefficient

City of Detroit

Inspection & Licensing Digitization for City Government

The Challenge

When a new mayor took office, he had big goals. Two of his top three goals were to generate revenue and increase employee productivity. Building inspections and business licensing were two areas where an impact could be made toward achieving those goals. Contractors and builders had long complained that it was too difficult to do business with the city and, as a result, new construction was basically at a standstill. Business people complained that the process for obtaining a license was too burdensome and many chose not to locate in the city while others opened their doors without bothering to get a license. On both accounts, the city was losing revenue, and the employees were not nearly as productive as they could be.

Overhauling the processes through automation

Our team, after analyzing the processes, set as a priority the elimination of paperwork. Our goal was to completely overhaul the way the city issued licenses and conducted the inspection process by automating them and giving online access to the interested parties. Before us, wait times for a city inspection were typically 6-8 months, and persons applying for a license to operate a business had to spend the better parts of many days standing in line. After we automated the processes, those wait times shrank down to minutes.

Results

For builders and contractors, we digitized the inspection process, and included the ability for geo-tagging and taking photos on a job site. Online permits could be applied for and received in under 5 minutes. The number of inspections skyrocketed, and the money collected for inspection fees increased significantly. The impact on the city’s budget was in the millions. For business people, the team also shrank the wait time for licensing down to minutes. Plus, taking advantage of our expertise in data analytics, we were able to use city, state and federal information to identify about 4,000 businesses that were operating without a license, leading to potentially a $2-4 million dollar gain in recurring annual revenue for the city. Another $2.1 million dollars in incremental money was realized because automating the licensing process saved the work of 30 employees, some of whom retired while others were reassigned. No matter the size of your government entity or organization, we can leverage our years of experience with the City of Detroit to help drive down costs, increase employee productivity and improve government efficiency.