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December 27, 2010

Is the DSC as great as the city says it is?

by Deena Winter

Earlier this month, the city of Lincoln put out a press release showing the results of a survey of 89 builders, architects and contractors to see how they think the city’s new Development Services Center is working.
The DSC, you may remember, is a sort of one-stop permit shop Mayor Chris Beutler got built on the second floor of city hall for a couple million bucks.
Basically, rather than having various planning and permitting offices spread out all over the place, they were consolidated into one place with the goal of making life easier on everyone from developers to people looking at put additions on their mobile homes. The DSC officially opened in March.
Beutler’s office says the users who took the survey gave it high marks — no surprise there; they don’t usually send out press releases to say things aren’t working.
The survey showed:
• 89 percent said permit application documents are understandable.
• 82 percent said permit intake staff provide good customer service.
• 75 percent said intake staff provide prompt service.
• 73 percent said intake staff communication effectively.
But most of the respondents want the city to let them do more of the work online, from applying to monitoring projects to paying fees. Of course, this could just be more justification for a new computer system the Beutler administration will probably install.
Survey takers also said they’d like to see more availability of review team members; clear, concise, timely written comments and more consistent application of codes, standards and requirements.
“The next steps for the DSC include expanding our Process Improvement Teams that we call PIT Crews,” said DSC Manager Fred Hoke. “We also plan to expand our pre-application meetings, launch our DSC website, finalize our risk management and business continuity plans and incorporate more technology into our systems.”
If any of you have been to the DSC or used it, let me know what you thought of it. Are the new digs worth the money? Has anything changed? Are things running more smoothly are is the DSC just window dressing?

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