The Division of Environmental Health in the Department of Health processes and issues approximately 2,850–3,000 permits or registrations annually across multiple program areas. Permit applications or registrations are received by mail or in person at the McHenry County Government Center. Staff estimates that approximately sixty-five (65) percent of applications are received by mail and thirty-five (35) percent are received in person.
For every application or permit renewal that staff receives, staff must complete a receipt of payment and enter the data into the applicable database, which takes an average of 5–10 minutes each, depending on the complexity of the application and amount of information. This represents 250–500 staff hours—time that can be dedicated to other core public health functions in the Division.
Why Is It Important?
- Online permitting will increase convenience to our customers by facilitating submittal of permit applications at any time on any day of the week.
- Online permitting will result in a measurable reduction in staff time by reducing the amount of time to prepare receipts and enter data. This will allow staff to process permits more quickly and free up staff to respond to other demands.
- Direct entry of permit information by customers will reduce the number of errors and omissions on permit applications resulting in a more streamlined process and quicker issuance of permits.
- Control mechanisms within the online permitting system will ensure that the correct fees are charged and paid for each permit type. This will result in a reduction in issuance of refunds for overpayment or delays in issuance of permits for underpayment.
- The online permitting system will increase the ability to easily track payments at multiple levels in the accounting process.
- If customers who currently drive to the Government Center utilize online application and payment, it could result in a reduction of approximately 1000 visits to the Government Center, reducing congestion and travel concerns.
- If customers who currently submit applications and fees by mail utilize online permitting, it could result in the in mailroom staff having to handle 2000 less pieces of mail annually.
• Online permitting will result in a reduction in paper usage as data and receipts will be entered and viewed and stored electronically.
Relationship to the Strategic Long-Term Goal: Operate at the Lowest Possible Tax Levy
The implementation of online permitting results in process efficiencies that align with the McHenry County Strategic Plan’s Leadership and Governance Goal 4, Process and Technology Improvement – Objective A: Continue to search for service improvements and efficiencies via the use of technology. The time saved enables the Division to maintain a high level of customer service and better respond to increases in on-demand services within current staff resources without increasing operating costs.
Time saved through online permitting is calculated by multiplying the number of permits processed (mail and in-person) by the time (in minutes) it takes to complete the data entry and manual payment processing divided by sixty. For every 20 online permits processed, there is approximately 3 hours in staff time saved.
Number of permits x process time / 60 = hours
e.g., 3,000 x 10 / 60 = 500 hours
The data for this metric has not yet accrued, but it will be posted as it becomes available on a biannual basis.
Online permitting is a feature that is provided by the Department’s Environmental Health data management software system. The Department’s software vendor has developed a permit application template that will initially be utilized for Temporary Food Permit applications as a pilot program. The permit application system will be integrated with the Department’s credit card vendor to facilitate the receipt of online payments.
After successful implementation of the online permitting in the single program area, additional program permitting process will be added systematically throughout the Division.
The staff time saved can be converted into a real cost savings by calculating the time saved by the average personnel cost of those directly tasked with this function. This savings could then be applied against the cost of the data management system to determine the return on investment for the County.
For more information of the McHenry County Department of Health, Environmental Division, please visit http://www.mchenrycountyil.gov/county-government/departments-a-i/health-department/environmental-health