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State Housing Entity Seeks Information on Potential New IT System

In a Request for Information, officials at the California Department of Housing and Community Development want to learn more about possibly seeking a new online system to streamline their business processes and move off paper.

A row of houses.
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The state entity tasked with promoting safe, affordable homes and vibrant, sustainable communities is seeking information from IT vendors for a new online system.

In a Request for Information (RFI) released Friday, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is calling for feedback on “draft requirements, state terms and conditions, project schedule” and project budget for a proposed IT system that would improve or build “a new web-accessed solution to streamline the business process, reduce manual paper-based activities, and allow for customers and partners to submit online registration, payments, title transfers, applications, and reports.” Among the takeaways:

  • HCD needs a public-facing portal capable of providing self-service to “customers and partners” to turn in online registration, payments, title transfers, applications and reports. It must also let people submit construction permit applications, payments and documents for plan review and make inspection requests. The portal must specifically let people submit applications and supporting documents for mobile-home parks, special-occupancy parks and employee housing permits to operate. It must also be able to handle occupational licensee application and renewals, education course provider applications; let third-party agencies submit reports electronically; and integrate with Codes and Standards Automated System (CASAS) database.
  • The project’s background, per the RFI, is that “Codes and Standards is proposing to provide new online services to streamline business processes and increase automation in processing.” The existing business processes, it said, are outdated and heavily paper-based, with documents being submitted in person, by mail and, in some cases, by email. These same documents, however, must then be processed by staff, and data entered manually into the CASAS application — with incomplete or unreadable examples having to be sent back to customers and further delaying the workflow. The process of mailing permit applications and job cards, the RFI said, can create “significant delays in communication between permit holders and field inspectors assigned to the inspection” — with inspection data, again, having to be manually entered. ”Online services would allow for real-time corrections to applications as needed; current processes require corrections to be made on hard-copy forms further delaying permit issuance and inspection times,” the RFI said, indicating a similar need for the process relating to occupational licenses of dealers, salespeople, distributors, course providers and manufacturers of mobile homes and “commercial modulars.”
  • General system requirements include letting external users and Codes and Standards staff collaborate electronically on document edits and approvals, the ability for users to resume partially saved transaction applications, and the ability to integrate with the existing records system. A new intake portal must be able to offer a user dashboard specific to user account activities; offer resident roster list information; offer users a dashboard with transaction details and history; and enable PDF, JPG, Microsoft Word and other format document uploads. The intake portal/internal CASAS must show successful transactions, assign tracking numbers to incoming applications, and allow online payment between staff, third parties and clients. The internal CASAS aspects of any system must be able to deliver certification applications and fees to third parties required by regulations for certification; enable user corrections; let users view and print reports in different formats; let staff verify data and reports from “third-party agencies and their client manufacturers”; and populate report data directly into CASAS. E-signature and online payment capabilities are also needed.
  • An estimated contract value and term aren’t indicated. The RFI’s main objective is to get information about market conditions and to collect information on the availability of goods or services that can meet the state’s needs. That information “may be used to develop alternatives for consideration and may be used to estimate costs” related to the potential acquisition of a system. Responses may also assist in developing and finalizing requirements, analyzing market research and helping HCD in identifying solutions and alternatives. Questions on the RFI are due by 5 p.m. Friday, and responses will come by 5 p.m. Nov. 17. Responses to the RFI are due by 5 p.m. Nov. 24.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.