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Municipal government

Why L&I’s tech upgrades are running a year behind schedule: report

A recent report from a commission investigating L&I's processes said the city agency needs to prioritize the $4.5 million project.

Licenses & Inspections oversees all the city's construction. Here, masons pour the foundation of the Frankford El in 1913. (Photo by Flickr user rich701, used under a Creative Commons license)

The ambitious, $4.5 million plan to upgrade Licenses and Inspections’ technology promises to change the way the city agency works.

The system, which will replace outdated L&I software that “creates inefficiencies,” according to a blue-ribbon panel report, will help L&I share data with the city agencies it works with, lessen its dependency on paper and give inspectors tablets so they can do more out in the field.

But the upgrades, called eCLIPSE, are nearly a year behind and the panel charged with investigating L&I is worried about its progress.

Read the full report (PDF)

The blue-ribbon panel, led by Glenn P. Corbett, a fire-safety expert at New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Peter F. Vaira, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, made a series of recommendations on how to improve L&I, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

According to the panel’s report:

  • There is tension between the city’s Office of Innovation and Technology and L&I over having the appropriate resources and staffers to implement the upgrades.
  • There have been management changes throughout the project (L&I’s IT director quit six months into the project).
  • L&I isn’t focused enough on revamping their business processes in conjunction with the tech upgrades.

“This is a singular opportunity to ‘get it right,’ so it is incumbent upon the City to do all it can to maximize the value to be derived from eCLIPSE,” the report said.

The commission recommended that, among other things, the city put more full-time staffers on the job.

Other technology-focused recommendations included using LIDAR to get accurate data on the city’s vacant properties and that all communication between the Law Department and L&I should be electronic.

Companies: City of Philadelphia / Licenses and Inspections

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