Progress of the DeKalb County Permitting Improvement Project

In March 2013 DeKalb County began the Permitting Improvement Project to reform the county’s process of issuing business licenses, building permits and land development permits. According to DeKalb County, the project came as a response to concerns that the current licensing and permitting operations were hindering growth.

Therefore, a three phase plan was designed to create a more efficient process which would promote commercial activity in the county by making it easier for individuals and businesses to work with DeKalb County. The Council for Quality Growth and many of our members have been a part of a stakeholder group throughout the process to provide input on DeKalb’s permit reform. The project has recently just completed the second phase of the plan.

  • Phase 1 addressed short-term improvements and began to improve technology
  • Phase 2  included retaining a consulting firm to formulate a streamlined process and implementation plan.
  • Phase 3  involves a software overhaul to make the process even more efficient and comprehensive.

Luz Borrero, the DeKalb Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Development presented a progress report following the completion of Phase 2 on June 4, 2015 at the Council for Quality Growth’s DeKalb Advisory Committee Meeting. The presentation described the new process of obtaining licenses and permits which now occurs completely within the single organizational structure of DeKalb’s Development Services division. Deputy COO Borrero also outlined improvements made in customer service, resource allocation, and technology to better accommodate customer demands in a timely and effective manner. The presentation also included data and customer feedback which showed steady progress in decreasing customer wait time and the time spent to issue permits and licenses.  In April of 2015, over 70% of customers were served in less than 30 minutes compared to November of 2014 where less than 50% of customers were served in under 30 minutes. Additionally this decrease in the amount time spent to issue permits and licenses occurred during an increase in the total number of customers requesting building permits and business licenses in DeKalb County. DeKalb has issued 2579 building permits through May of 2105 compared to only 1602 in 2014 and 1375 in 2013.

Also discussed were the future policies regarding technology and software to be addressed in Phase 3 of the project. The software overhaul will allow customers to submit permits, pay fees, renew licenses, and check the status of permits on an online portal. The new software will improve the process in order to save applicants time and money. Phase 3 is expected to be completed by February 2017.

The Council for Quality Growth commends DeKalb County on their improvements to the process and for creating a business-ready environment. The Council looks forward to continuing to provide input into the process.

To view the presenation by Deputy COO Borrero,CLICK HERE