2008-02-01 / Community

Mayor Sets Ability To Track 311 Complaints

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT) Commissioner Paul J. Cosgrave have rolled out two new technological initiatives to improve the City's customer service, slash government red tape and ease the regulatory burden on small business owners in New York City - delivering the first of a series of initiatives that the Mayor promised New Yorkers in his 2008 State of the City address on Thursday.

Business licensing at the Department of Consumer Affairs is now faster and more convenient for New York City small businesses because online business license renewal forms are available for business owners to submit any time and from anywhere - not just in a government office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. In addition, 311 has been expanded to empower New Yorkers to check the status of a 311 service request on the web at www.nyc.gov, and to give New Yorkers the option of receiving a confirmation email from 311 with both their service request number and a link to the tracking site. These technological enhancements will be followed by other major and technological improvements to public safety, government accountability and transparency, and customer service throughout the coming year. The Mayor, Commissioner Mintz and Commissioner Cosgrave joined small business owner Xin Li at his East Elmhurst Laundromat, Li's Laundromat, to announce these programs.

"Over the past six years we have remained committed to our goal of bringing government to the people and transforming their contact with City government into a more accessible and efficient experience," said Mayor Bloomberg. "By cutting red tape for small businesses, and providing easier access to information, we continue to use technology and innovation to streamline City services and make government more transparent and accountable."

"New York businesses have every right to expect that we will use technology to make it as easy and efficient as possible to get what they need from the City," said DCA Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. "Today we take a quantum leap forward by making our licensing services available online."

"Success is never permission to rest on your laurels, and that's especially true in customer service," said DoITT Commissioner Paul Cosgrave. "Now, by enabling thousands of businesses and million of callers to access City government online, we're enhancing already successful technologies by providing an additional avenue of seamless access to our customers."

The Department of Consumer Affairs has begun making it easier for business owners to renew their business licenses on the City's official website, www.nyc.gov.

The new online license renewal form provides many businesses convenience and flexibility as they will no longer be required to come to the licensing center. This significantly decreases the amount of time businesses have to wait for their data to be processed. Based on DCA's license renewal calendar, three major categories of business so far have had the opportunity to use this new service, including homeimprovement salespersons, tobacco retail dealers and laundry service providers. When the online renewal form was launched in two pilot phases late last year, almost 20,000 businesses licensed by DCA were eligible for online renewal service. By the end of 2008, 70 percent of the over 60,000 businesses DCA licenses citywide will be able to submit renewal applications on www.nyc.gov.

This year, DCA will expand its online services to include self-service online forms for businesses with existing licenses that need to update changes in their information, like the mailing address or phone number. The Department expects to launch this form in the summer. This fall, DCA also plans to add an application for a new business license on its web site.

In order to add this improved functionality to its web site, DCA worked closely with DoITT to ensure that businesses using the online renewal option could pay for their renewal fees safely and securely over the Internet.

To strengthen the City's goal of enhancing customer service, government efficiency and accountability, DOITT is making it easier for New Yorkers to track the progress of their 311 service request on the web. Customers can visit www.nyc.gov to enter the service request number provided by the 311 operator who received their initial request and they will be provided with information on the request they filed, including the date created, type of request, request details, the borough and address of the incident, the status of the service request, and the last time the request was updated by the servicing agency.

All 311 service requests filed over the past 45 days are available on www. nyc.gov. This latest functionality represents a significant step toward the PlanIT goal of providing the information and services already available by calling 311 on the City's official website as well. PlanIT, launched in November 2007, is New York City's first-ever comprehensive technology strategy for coordinated, effective and efficient citywide IT implementation.

Over the past six years, New York City has brought new technology to every level of City government to improve customer service and make government more open, responsive and accountable to the public.

Over the next year, the City will continue to implement major technology improvements as outlined the Mayor's State of the City address including the expansion of Business Express, online monitoring of the Street Conditions Observation Unit (SCOUT) program, and a new Citywide Performance Reporting system, an accountability tool that will include information from 45 city agencies online and available to the public.

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