Council wants to track constituent comments
City Council members say they want to make it easier to track comments and complaints from constituents.
The council directed city staff last week to begin the process of crafting Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to seek proposals from entities that could provide digital software to make it easier to record and track problems, issues and concerns that council members forward to city staff from constituents.
Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren said his tentative research indicates there are numerous vendors that provide software platforms to make such monitoring easy to do, platforms that could be as easy as installing an app on a phone or a computer desktop. Warren said such software would allow council members to send information to the city manager and the app would allow council members to follow the process of that request through the city departments tasked with handling it.
Ward 4 Councilman Jay Burk said the concept was explained as "see it, click it, fix it" at a recent National League of Cities conference that also outlined the technology as a tracking method that is less time consuming for cities. The costs estimated at NLC ranged from $50,000 to $75,000 a year in support costs, but Ward 6 Councilman Sean Fortenbaugh said it wouldn't even cost that much, explaining he has seen similar systems available for $40 a month.
"It is a electronic trail that doesn't go away," Fortenbaugh said, adding the concept also would emphasize government transparency.
Warren said such applications would be "cloud based," meaning they would not be attached to the city's servers and thus able to bring viruses and other problems into the City of Lawton computer system. He also said that seeking formal RFPs would lower the cost of providing such a service, adding that he already has seen the cost go down when vendors who were asked tentative questions were told the city was interested in a formal RFP.
Those RFPs would go through the council's IT committee for evaluation and recommendation before they are brought to the full council for a recommendation. The evaluation would allow vendors to provide data that matches the city's needs with the abilities of each software package, city administrators said.
Warren also pointed to an immediate application for the new software: a proposal from Ward 3 Councilman Caleb Davis to create a program bringing the city's solid waste drivers into the process of identifying nuisances such as high weeds and grass, debris, and illegally parked vehicles in city neighborhoods.