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Richard Danielson
By Richard Danielson March 28, 2013

One-stop center for permitting established

On the campaign trail, Bob Buckhorn promised to create a one-stop licensing center, and as mayor he has engineered a major consolidation of permitting functions in one place and an upgrade to permitting technology.

While licensing and permitting are not the same things, in an interview with PolitiFact Florida on Feb. 26, 2013, Buckhorn said, "I've done what I meant to do.”

"The permitting process was the one that was broken, the one that needed to be fixed,” Buckhorn said.

The reorganization of the Construction Services Center and permitting functions are significant, as is the city's acquisition of Accela Automation permitting software. Buckhorn's promise laid out the goal in slightly different terms, so we rate this as a Compromise.

Our Sources

Interview with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Feb. 26, 2013

Richard Danielson
By Richard Danielson March 30, 2012

Development review staffers brought together, and permitting software purchased

On the stump, candidate Bob Buckhorn promised to create a "one-stop licensing program,” available in person and online for companies seeking city licenses and permits of all kinds. As mayor, Buckhorn has made some big changes, but they're more focused on things like building and development permits than on business licenses.

In conjunction with a wide-ranging city reorganization announced on Feb. 23, 2012, Bob Buckhorn's administration announced it would streamline the permitting process in two ways.

One is to create what Buckhorn has called a one-stop shop at the city's Construction Services Center. This has meant moving employees involved in various aspects of permitting and development review, including water, stormwater, solid waste and transportation, out of the departments where they had traditionally been based and to the center. The idea was to bring everyone involved in the process together in one place and make the review of permit applications less fragmented.

"What will happen there is that folks will come down, and all the regulators for all the agencies will be there at one location so they don't have to run all over the city,” Buckhorn said in an interview on Feb. 28, 2012.

The second was to undertake a major upgrade of technology for permitting. In January 2012, the city announced plans to buy a fully automated electronic permitting system from Accela Automation, a company near San Francisco that provides Web- and cloud-based software applications to government agencies. The $2.7 million system is replacing a patchwork of old software and is designed to give businesses, homeowners and contractors around-the-clock online access to permitting and licensing information.

Accela Citizen Access, part of the software package, will allow businesses to apply and pay for permits, submit construction plans electronically, schedule inspections, check the status of a permit or inspection, and print an approved permit online any time, officials said.

Residents and businesses also will be able to look at maps and access permitting services from devices such as iPhones and iPads.

"With the technology that we're implementing, the online components of our permitting and regulatory process will be significantly bolstered,” Buckhorn said.

With the computer upgrade, the immediate priority was to facilitate the permitting process, so at this point the Accela software the city is buying is strictly for permitting. In the future, the city might buy the Accela module that deals with licensing, said Bob McDonaugh, the city's administrator of economic opportunity.

Buckhorn promised to create a "one-stop licensing program” with both in-person and on-line components. His administration has consolidated staffers involved in permitting and development review in one place and is investing in a more modern and user-friendly computer system for permitting. These are significant changes. But because Buckhorn also talked about licensing but has not done as much there as he has with permitting, we rate this promise In the Works.

Our Sources

Interview with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Feb. 28, 2012

Tampa Bay Times, "Committee to help Tampa City Hall shake reputation as a tough place to do business,” Feb. 15, 2012

Tampa Bay Times, "Tampa to make getting building permits faster, easier and trackable online,” Jan. 12, 2012

City of Tampa news release, "Buckhorn announces major reorganization to Tampa city government,” Feb. 23, 2012, accessed March 20, 2012

Email interview with Ali Glisson, city director of public affairs, March 27, 2012, and telephone interview March 30, 2012

Email interviews with Bob McDonaugh, city administrator for economic opportunity, March 28 and 30, 2012, and telephone interview March 29, 2012

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