Category Archives: Public Administration

Customer Service and 311/CRM Technology in Local Governments: Lessons on Connecting with Citizens

Source: Cory Fleming (ed.), ICMA, October 2008

This final report of ICMA’s National Study of 311 and Customer Service Technology serves as a valuable reference manual for local governments considering the implementation of a centralized customer service system.
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Helping Residents Help Themselves
Source: Annie Gentile, American City and County, April 2008

Searching for Answers: Networks of Practice Among Public Administrators

Source: Maria Binz-Scharf, David Lazer, Ines A. Mergel, HKS Working Paper No. RWP08-046, October 2, 2008

From the abstract:
The obstacles to innovation in government have been the subject of much academic scrutiny. Far less studied, however, has been the sharing of innovation among public administrators. How does a lesson learned, for example, in one agency provide insights that other agencies might borrow? Such sharing of experiences across agency boundaries, while at times potentially offering enormous value to the system as a whole, faces substantial challenges. In the US, one fundamental challenge is the natural dispersion of government across the country, within state and local government. We examine the alternative mechanisms that evolve within the public sector to compensate for this dispersion of expertise. In particular, we argue that the knowledge sharing practices of DNA forensic scientists working in government crime labs constitute such an alternative mechanism. Findings from an in-depth case study of this community suggest that concerns around trust, reliability, and cost, interacting with context specific features, result in the emergence of a network of practice that is fairly parochial, with a few dominant hubs, and a reliance on different channels depending on the needs for security in communication. We conclude by discussing the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.

Transforming Government through Collaborative Innovation

Source: Satish Nambisan, Public Manager, Vol. 37 no. 3, Fall 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article identifies four different roles that government agencies can pursue in network-based collaborative innovation and problem-solving: innovation integrator, innovation seeker, innovation champion, and innovation catalyst. It draws on examples to elaborate on these four roles. It also briefly considers the organizational competencies and capabilities that government agencies would need to succeed in such network-based collaborative innovation initiatives.

A New Generation of Change Solutions for Public Bureaucracies

Source: Martin Goldberg and Tracy Haugen, Public Manager, Vol. 37 no. 3, Fall 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article looks at three levels of the public enterprise–agency leaders, staff members, and citizens–and explores how each can be empowered to operate effectively within the bureaucratic landscape, overcoming structural traps. A new way of thinking about effecting change in public bureaucracies is required.

PTI offers citizen call center guide

Source: American City and County, November 18, 2008

The Washington-based Public Technology Institute (PTI) has released a guide to help local governments make the best use of citizen call centers. “Effective Technology and Management Practices for the Development and Implementation of Citizen Call Centers” covers the use of call manager telephony systems, CRM/work order systems and Web-based applications that can improve service delivery.

The guide presents an overview of call center implementations by five local governments and agencies: Corpus Christi, Texas; Greensboro, N.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; New York; and the New York City Housing Authority. It was developed as part of PTI’s Citizen-Engaged Community Designation program, which encourages more public participation in government performance management.

Call 311: Connecting Citizens to Local Government Data Report

Source: Evelina Moulder, ICMA, 2007

With funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, ICMA is conducting the first ever national study on 311 and related customer service technology used by local governments in the United States. The study will explore the benefits of and barriers to local governments adopting integrated systems for customer service. A national survey of local governments, together with information collected from a series of in-depth case studies, will help create a portrait of how local governments are using such systems to respond to citizen needs and build the local government-constituent relationship. When viewed together, the survey results and findings from the case study research will present current practices and successful implementation of coordinated systems for customer service.

Email Archiving Requirements for Schools and Local Governments

Source: Roger Matus, Sean True, and Chuck Ingold, InBoxer, Inc., 2007

Public schools and local governments may have more stringent requirements than most businesses for email archiving and electronic discovery. Yet, with their limited budgets, schools and local governments are often the least equipped to respond.

The newly revised Federal Rules of Civil Procedure define how email must be handled in federal court cases. Businesses tend to think that the FRCP focus is on interstate lawsuits. Schools and governments, however, also need to be concerned with emails relating to federally funded activities or any activity governed by federal legislation.

In addition, schools and local governments have the burden of responding to (1) requests under open meeting and Freedom of Information Act laws, (2) offensive emails or those with sexual content involving students, and (3) emailed threats.

Customer Service is Just 3 Digits Away in San Antonio

Source: Cory Fleming, and Bryan Barnhouse, Public Management, December 2006, Volume 88, no. 11

Local governments exist to serve the needs of their residents, but determining the needs of these customers is not a simple task, whether in a community of a few thousand people or in a city with millions of residents. Defining and providing excellent customer service in local government also differs from these processes regarding customer service in the business community.

Local governments must provide equitable services to all residents, whereas businesses can vary their service levels based on a customer’s ability to pay. So, how do local governments determine customer needs and offer better customer service to their residents?