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Published on September 16th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Richland County Wins National Awards for Development Services ‘Inspiring’ Efforts

Pictured from left; Sparty Hammett, Miranda Spivey, Octavia Robinson, William Simon.

Like a Broadway production that receives rave reviews, Richland County’s reinvention of services for contractors and developers has become a smash hit for its unique adaptation of an innovative, customer-based process that sets an example for government entities nationwide.

Richland County Development Services – which includes several departments and divisions – has received several national accolades over the past several months. Its reinvention of “business friendly” services earned the National Association of Counties 2015 Achievement Award and the Government Customer Service Community of Practice (Cgov) 2015 Overall Excellence Award.

“Richland County Development Services stood out – not just for this year, but in all the years we’ve been doing the awards – as one of the most compelling stories about changing culture and having an amazing impact on its customers,” said Daryl Covey, facilitator of Cgov.

Covey, whose organization has presented the award for 14 years, lauded Development Services for its ability to create a “one-stop shop,” making it easier for customers to do business with Richland County. Earlier this year, Development Services also received Cgov’s Teamwork Excellence Award.

Covey praised Assistant County Administrator Sparty Hammett’s leadership and noted that Richland County Development Services stands as a model for other government entities – local, state and federal.

“If you can save people time, make it convenient and do it with courtesy – that’s quality service,” he said.

Hammett and representatives of the Development Services staff (Miranda Spivey, Fire Marshal; Octavia Robinson, Information Technology – Project Manager; and William Simon, Public Works – Engineering) traveled to Washington, D.C., this summer to receive the Overall Excellence award during the Digital Government Institute Conference. The group also was asked to give a presentation on the changes instituted at the County.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to publicly acknowledge Development Services team members who have been there from the beginning of the process to make this effort a success,” Hammett said. “Changing the way we do business did not happen overnight, but staff was receptive to feedback from our customers and our customers appreciate it.”

Over the last few years, Richland County Development Services conducted extensive upgrades, establishing processes that allow customers to get the results they need better and faster than previously possible. Some of the department’s improvements include:

· A renovated service center that consolidates all interworking offices into a single “one-stop shop” for developers, contractors and residents
· A new, easy-to-use website offering tools and information about land or building development projects, codes and regulations, permits, inspections, zoning and more
· Enhanced customer service and customer service training
· Expanded counter space so staff can easily work face-to-face with customers to fulfill their needs and provide information
· The implementation of new software that allows inspections, surveys and other fieldwork to be easily documented and accessed universally across different departments
· The new software also allows customers to submit all permit requests and project applications online, enabling most development-related business with the County to be conducted from their homes or offices.

Covey said it was exciting to witness the reaction of hundreds of government officials from across the country as Hammett and the Development Services employees presented the challenges they faced and the achievements they made in reinventing the way the County does business.

“Theirs is an inspiring story,” Covey said. “This shows it can be done.”

To learn more about the information and resources available through Richland County Development Services, visit www.rcgov.us/devserv.

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