Local Government Group Forms to Promote 311/CRM

311 service is making it easier for citizens to connect with their local government when they need help.

by / July 17, 2008

A pothole in the street? A loose dog running around the neighborhood? Missed trash pick-up? Every day Americans want or need to make a call to their local government for service or information, but don't always know where to call. An emerging technology, 311 service, is making it easier for citizens to connect with their local government when they need help. And all through a simple phone call to 3-1-1 or the touch of a button on a government Web site.

A new group created by several leading organizations has formed to promote the use of and serve as a resource on centralized customer service systems, such as 311 call centers, citizen relationship management (CRM) systems, and online service requests, to improve local government service delivery and performance.

The 311/CRM Project Coordinating Group was created by Rutgers University's Public Performance Measurement and Reporting Network, 311 Community of Practice; the International City/County Management Association (ICMA); Community Research Council (CRC); and Public Technology Institute (PTI).

By coming together, the members of the 311/CRM Project Coordinating Group hope to:

  • Create a unified public voice to promote the dissemination of 311/CRM systems to local governments across the U.S.
  • Share information and serve as a resource to local government practitioners on 311/CRM systems through the development of online discussions, and sources of information including but not limited to academic articles, books, newspaper articles, etc.
  • Recognize and promote best practices and strategies that lead to more responsive government and improved government performance.

Each founding member of the 311/CRM Project Coordinating Group has received funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to conduct research on 311 and CRM systems as part of its goal to help municipal governments be more responsive to their citizens, and strengthen the connection citizens and their local government.

Research projects that coordinating group members are conducting include:

  • Rutgers University will focus on creating a long-term sustainable network for 311/CRM practitioners for the development of the profession, networking, and information-sharing. Performance measurement and management will be a key emphasis of this effort. The Network will build a centralized repository of resources related to 311 including books, articles, manuals, conferences, and websites among others. Citizen participation, performance measurement and reporting, and management will be a key emphasis of this effort.
  • ICMA and CRC will conduct research and develop resources and tools for communities considering implementation of 311/CRM systems. ICMA and CRC are interested in overall system management (including various organizational issues such as staff training), citizen engagement, and performance measurement and management.
  • PTI will focus on developing a support and recognition program for multi-channel government contact centers, including 311/CRM systems integrated with Web portals, telephony and mobile communications, which institute key process and technology practices. Technology, data management, analysis, information flow, and information impact on governance, reporting, and citizen participation are among PTI's areas of interest.

311/CRM Project Coordinating Group members will disseminate information on their research initiatives through their respective Web sites, and will explore opportunities for collaboration with other organizations interested in the promotion and diffusion of 311/CRM systems when appropriate.