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City Complaint System to Give Constituents Feedback

(excerpt from article)

Rachael Seravalli
October 21, 2005
Lincoln Journal Star

Introducing an online city complaint system that talks back — in a good way. The new interactive system, allows people to register a complaint or concern with the city and alerts them to each action by officials until the complaint is resolved.

Mayor Coleen Seng (City of Lincoln, Nebraska), who announced the system’s deployment Thursday, said it will provide more transparency by allowing people to know the status of complaints as they are processed.

“I think one thing that’s so frustrating for citizens is they don’t know what’s happening,” Seng said. “With this system, they will find out what’s really going.”

The idea for the system originated in 2002 when the city was developing an internal constituent services tracking system, Seng said.

“Up to this point, it’s been fairly difficult for the average citizen to know who to talk to about a specific problem,” Zink said. “That was our goal, to make it more easily accessible to the average person.”

Lincoln’s system was modeled on Tampa, Florida’s “customer service center,” said Lowe, a similar but somewhat broader government system that also tracks communication with the city from around the world.

Diane Jamai, coordinator of operations for the City of Tampa, said their program was developed, first and foremost, with ease of use in mind. As with Lincoln’s new system, users are updated each step of the way.

Since debuting in 2003, efficiency has increased dramatically as the Tampa program has worked as a clearinghouse for information for all the city’s departments, Jamai said. The system also automatically reroutes city requests to county agencies when appropriate, which happens about two-thirds of the time, she said.

“It’s a change in thought to be totally open,” Jamai said. “It takes the guesswork out of government.”

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