Mayor Walsh Puts Permitting Under the “I-Team” Microscope


Syracuse, N.Y. – Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh has asked the City’s Innovation Team, known as the “i-team,” to make city government’s Permitting process its priority area for 2019. Permitting, managed by the Central Permit Office, provides both residents and businesses with approvals to complete projects in the City.

For the remainder of 2019, the i-team will execute a comprehensive series of programs and initiatives to improve the permitting customer experience, including addressing office operations, customer communications, and the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the permitting process. The i-team will engage with key stakeholders, including developers, design professionals, contractors, small businesses, homeowners, Common Councilors and city employees to understand the challenges facing the permitting process. The i-team’s innovation champions will then generate and test a range of solutions, followed by issuing series of recommended initiatives to improve permitting.

Syracuse City Hall

“Permitting plays a critical role in making progress in cities. We’ve made improvements to our process, but it is not yet where it needs to be to achieve our vision of being a growing city,” said Mayor Walsh. “The i-team, with the help of our great partners at Bloomberg Philanthropies, has a proven track record of making a positive impact on our city. I’m looking forward to seeing how the i-team can engage our stakeholders and customers; rethink what we’re doing and make it better.”

Mayor Walsh made the announcement of the i-team’s 2019 priority area in a video posted online and shared on social media on Thursday. The i-team also posted more information about its plans on its Innovate Syracuse blog.

The Syracuse i-team was launched in 2015 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Since then, it has helped make substantial progress on previous focus areas like improving the city’s water and road infrastructure—more than doubling its speed in resolving requests for repairs from residents; saving over $1.2 million on infrastructure costs; improving processes to fill more than 15,000 potholes; and winning over $750,000 more in state infrastructure grants.

Additionally, the team’s work with the Division of Code Enforcement has yielded an 18.2 percentage point increase in code compliance. Nearly 60 percent of violations, including health and safety violations such as heat and water shutoffs, infestations, and chipping lead paint, were successfully resolved by property owners on time.

Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams Program

Now working in more than 20 cities across four countries, the Innovation Teams Program helps cities solve problems in new ways to deliver better results for residents. Bloomberg Philanthropies awards cities multi-year grants to create in-house innovation teams, or “i-teams,” which offer cities a different set of tools and techniques to innovate more effectively and tackle critical challenges—from reducing violent crime to revitalizing neighborhoods to strengthening the growth of small businesses.