The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (LADPW) is using a Web-based system to automate its transportation and excavation permitting processes. By implementing the system, the department has streamlined its procedures for issuing permits while saving time and money.
The process of approving transportation permits used to take LADPW as long as two days because each permit had to be reviewed manually, says Nelson Nelson, section head for permits and subdivisions for LADPW. After a customer faxed in a permit application, staff members were required to number it, make copies, check all sections to ensure compliance with county policies and ordinances, and enter the information into a database.
For excavation permits, the department faced a different problem. "There was no systematic way to inspect the work, ensure compliance [with county policies and ordinances], or bill customers," Nelson explains.
In April 2000, LADPW hired Long Beach, Calif.-based Advanta Solutions to automate the permitting processes. The company used ColdFusion Server software, developed by San Francisco-based Macromedia, to construct a Web site that allows customers to apply for permits online.
The software application prompts customers to fill out all necessary fields on the application. It also interacts with a SQL Server database from Redmond, Wash.-basedto compare application data to parameters (e.g., maximum truck height and weight, and maximum dimensions of excavation cuts) set by LADPW.
If the information on the application falls within the department's parameters, the software e-mails an approval to the customer with a link to the permit. If information on the application does not meet requirements, the database flags the permit for manual review.
Since implementing the automated system in October 2000, LADPW has saved approximately $170,000 in man-hours, Nelson says. The system has saved customers time as well. "Now customers can get permit approval within 15 minutes," Nelson explains.
The system, which cost approximately $145,000, was funded by federal grants. LADPW expects to expand it this year by allowing customers to pay for permits online.