Housing representations are made to the Council by elected members (Local Councillors, TD’s, and Senators) on behalf of their constituents. Over 250 representations were being made to the Housing Directorate each month through various channels – emails, face to face, letters, phone, etc. It was a very manual and time consuming processing, inputting and following up on the representations.
A clerical officer (entry grade member of staff) in the housing policy section of Cork County Council had sole responsibility for processing and responding to these representations. She approached the Service rePublic team looking for a way that the manual process might be improved, based on what she had seen done with other services in on the yourcouncil.ie portal.
Each representation needed to be scanned in and details added in manually to a database by the clerical officer. This took 15 minutes to record each time. The clerical officer would then forward the representation to other members of staff for response if she couldn’t provide the information directly herself.
She had a 3 day acknowledgement KPI to meet and also a 10 day response KPI. Neither of these could be met with the existing process.
Housing staff were brought together into a discovery workshop to discuss the process. It emerged that the process across the County was very different from one location to the next.
Elected members were then interviewed to talk about their experience of housing representations. This was one of the first times that our politicians had been actively engaged in the design of a service for themselves. They were very generous with their time and were delighted to feel that they’re ideas and input would form part of the new service.
Staff and politicians participated in prototyping and testing of the service. In the end an online service that the politicians would input their representations into directly was chosen as the best model for the new design.
Significant efficiencies were achieved with the re-designed service. Acknowledgements could be automatically issued once the representation was submitted. Politicians were inputting the representations themselves so a time saving of 86% in the processing of representations was achieved. Postage of representations by politicians, and responses back to them from the Council, achieved savings of €12,000 per annum. While these savings are small, these are just the outcomes for one of 600 services in Cork County Council so the potential to scale up savings and efficiencies across the Council service catalogue is significant.