Automated and Expanded Residential Walk-Through Online Permitting Process

2023 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Howard County, Md., MD

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About the Program

Category: County Administration and Management (Best in Category)

Year: 2023

Howard County had a very successful Residential Walk-Through program. This program allowed for the quick application, review, and approval of miscellaneous residential projects, such as: swimming pools and hot tubs; decks and sunporches; small additions; etc. The program accounted for over 40% of the permits issued in a typical week. However, the program only operated for a two-hour period, twice weekly. This led to staff falling behind on other required tasks, as well as putting homeowners (who need a little more attention), competing with professional contractors for time and resources. The solution was to redevelop the program to take full advantage of available technology. We automated the permitting process for these types of activities, requiring the licensed Maryland Home Improvement Contractors (MHIC) to become registered users and trained them to be able to apply online 24/7, while still allowing homeowners to apply in-person anytime during normal business hours (homeowners are also able to apply online if they so desire). The resulting changes freed-up valuable permit technician’s time, increased efficiency and public service delivery, and moved >90% of these permits to an online portal, saving valuable travel time and human and environmental resources.