FIDO: A Fetching New County Permitting System


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

July 13, 2004

 

FIDO: A Fetching New County Permitting System

 

A unique collaboration between the state and county governments has produced a new streamlined contractor licensing verification module for Fairfax County. The Fairfax Inspections Database Online, or FIDO for short, has brought together the state’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and five county agencies.

FIDO has incorporated the state’s electronic contractor licensing database into the new county system. This is the first time the state has regularly exported its licensing data electronically into a county database.

“The collaboration between the state and county agencies was essential for creating this new streamlined module,” said Stephen Garnier with the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. “This new licensing verification system is a major step forward in making the overall building permit process quicker, easier and more efficient. Agencies now can work more collaboratively to issue building permits, review architectural plans and facilitate inspections.”

At the county level, the partnership engages the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, Department of Planning and Zoning, Department of Fire and Rescue, Health Department and Department of Information Technology. Each of these agencies is involved in the issuance of the various permits required to construct a new home or office building — but the permitting process begins with licensing verification.

“It makes great sense for the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to work with Fairfax County,” said Jeanne Branch, who manages the state’s contractor licensing database. “Local governments across the state use our data everyday, but Fairfax County was the first to approach us with this collaborative venture. Because we’re satisfying the same customers, everybody wins.”

Using the old verification system, for example, county employees consulted multiple databases before authorizing the issuance of a building permit to a contractor.

Two databases had to be accessed to verify that a contractor held the required licenses: the state’s contractor licensing system and the county’s Business Professional and Occupational License System. Licensing information also was entered into a third system for processing, the county’s Inspection Services Information System.

FIDO, however, fetches information from these databases all at once, consolidating the process into a single step.

Since January, the Health Department and the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services have been using FIDO’s contractor licensing verification feature.

“The Health Department is fortunate to be a part of the FIDO team,” said Dennis Hill with the Fairfax County Health Department. “This new system enables the department to have one complete and accurate database that will eliminate redundant data entry, improve tracking and reporting of data and make the department more customer friendly.”

Besides licensing verification, FIDO includes a complaints management system that tracks and manages complaints and code violations more efficiently.

The Health Department will begin using the complaints management module this summer, but the Zoning Enforcement Branch of the Department of Planning and Zoning has been using the feature since last September.

“Because of FIDO, we’re able to better serve the public with a reduced turn-around time,” said Roger Sims, supervising field inspector with the Zoning Enforcement Branch, a part of Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning. “This new system lets us work smarter, and our office has already seen a more efficient delivery of services to the community.”

FIDO, which is being brought online in three phases, will be fully operational sometime in 2005.

The existing permitting system, the Inspection Services Information System, or ISIS, was designed in 1978 and was put into service in 1981. ISIS mainly collects and stores information about the building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits issued by the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, as well as information on inspections performed by field inspectors.

For more information, contact Stephen Garnier at 703-324-1555, TTY 711.


 

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