In what once again seems to fit into prep work for a future mayoral bid, Councilman Bill Green laid out yet another broad vision for the way City Hall operates: this time with legislation introduced Thursday pertaining to the city’s information infrastructure
“Basically, the bills require any transaction inside or outside the city to be able to be conducted in an electronic format and for every field and department to have an electronic database that is searchable,” he said Thursday.
City forms, license and permit applications and service requests could all be completed online, along with the payment of bills, taxes and fees.
Green hired urban planner Todd Baylson to work on the initiative.
“There are three constituencies who are interested in an open government system,” Baylson said. “There are groups that want transparency, groups that want business opportunities and those with the idea that this could improve the way the government functions. We are going to attack this on all three sides.”
Baylson said that the legislation would make cross-departmental information available in a centralized, searchable and public database. This would allow businesses with advanced technologies to analyze the information and encourage synergy between city departments.
“Something like geographical information systems technology could allow multiple departments to communicate about the same place in the same language and realize, for instance, money is being spent there disparately without maximum impact,” he said.
Green said the system could save the city $200 million a year because it would eliminate the need for space to house paper-based records and employees to monitor them.
The Councilman has tried tackling City Hall’s information processing system before.
The new bills mandate that the city finance director submit a five-year plan for the implementation of a paperless system to City Council along with the budget.
Green noted that he unsuccessfully pushed similar legislation two years ago, but last year the mayor issued an executive order requiring a five-year plan.
“Hopefully, they’ll be receptive,” Green said. “But it’s probably unlikely because they don’t like to be required to present things that are subject to approval.”