The Council's Complaint Service
November 13th, 2007

Most council members still use paper to keep constituent records.

Now, Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants to shred it.

Quinn, along with several other members, rolled out the latest transparency initiative this morning intended to provide more effective constituent service by measuring and tracking complaints through a citywide database – CouncilStat .

CouncilStat, which was first announced by the speaker in 2006, will centralize all calls, requests and complaints made to individual council members’ offices and create a mega-database for the governing body to track trends.

Sound a little too technical? Well, members contend the system will catapult their constituent service into the 21st century and make it easier to spot issues that are affecting residents citywide.

“If 10 people have called on the Upper East Side, and 10 people have called in Astoria and five people have called in the Upper West Side, well thats an issue that isnt just local and deserves a larger than local response from the council,” said Quinn.

As part of its transparency initiative, the council will provide monthly reports on its web site revealing information gleaned from constituent complaints. Based upon those complaints, Quinn said, constituents can see how the council responds.

The specific information in the database, such as addresses and names, will not be within the public reports. Quinn also said the speaker’s office will not have access to those details, but instead the overall figures.

What some members referred to as their version of the Bloomberg administration’s 311 hotline, the database will help streamline the members’ administrative operations as well as determine what problems are merely local and what issues occur on a citywide scale.

The databases should be operational in all of the council members’ offices by January, said city officials.

Quinn said CouncilStat was not a redundancy of the mayor’s 311 calling system, and its cost is minimal – $571,476 to implement citywide and $750 per office the year after.

Quinn said that CouncilStat and 311 have similarities, but also differences. CouncilStat will show how the council addresses the problems it should, officials said, and whether constituents turn to their council member or the city’s 311 system.

By on November 13, 2007, 2:21 pm
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