Survey seeks feedback from permit applicants PDF Print E-mail

By: Linda Lipp

Sept 16, 2016 - Fourteen local government bodies in northeast Indiana are participating in effort, spearheaded by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to streamline and improve the permitting process for non-residential permit applicants.

The Permitting Excellence Coalition began seeking input from permit applicants in a few of the jurisdictions in fall 2015, and has begun using that information to improve the permitting process, said Ryan Chasey, president of the HPG Network, which is coordinating the effort.

A standardized 16-question survey is being used by all the government entities participating, even though each may have its own way of doing things.

"One of the gaps identified was consistent customer feedback," Chasey said. "There are all these anecdotal stories...but most of the jurisdictions had never collected that in any way. And a number of them do things differently, so there's not really a clear understanding of, is one of these ways better than the other?

"The survey was designed to provide a formalized, measurable voice to the customer, so they can make those decisions about what is the best way."

Survey questions cover areas such as customer service, responsiveness, timeliness and availability of information. Responses help each governmental unit individually; and they also can compare notes with other permitting authorities.

As a result of the feedback the city of New Haven piloted an alternate hours strategy where the planning department remains open after normal business hours one night per week to improve accessibility. In Whitley County/Columbia City, changes are being made to the system to allow for the acceptance of credit card payments.

"Establishing permitting standards across the region will create a more business-friendly climate, providing greater efficiencies to support our top industry talent," said Vivian Likes, the director of the economic development and planning office for the city of Angola.

The survey process is open ended, Chasey said.

"One of the purposes of the group is continuous improvement," he said.

The HPG, or High Performance Government, Network is a Fort Wayne based nonprofit that works with government bodies and agencies throughout the state to help them improve their performance. Jurisdictions participating in this effort are: Allen County/City of Fort Wayne; Whitley County/Columbia City; the cities of New Haven, Huntington, Angola, Auburn, Wabash, Rome City, North Manchester and Decatur; and DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange Wells counties.

Permit applicants are given surveys when they file their applications, and can complete them on the spot, mail them in later or use a link on the print form to complete them online.

Originally published by Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

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