The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has implemented its new electronic complaint system, commonly referred to as e-complaint, which enhances operational efficiencies and streamlines responses to environmental complaints. Responding to complaints yields a much higher likelihood of identifying a violation than a routine inspection program. Making it easy for citizens to file complaints helps the agency to use its scarce human resources more efficiently. In addition to these efficiency enhancements, the new complaint system provides a convenient way for environmental groups and citizen groups to follow, or track, the status of complaints that have been filed with ADEM.
The e-complaint system is readily accessible through the ADEM website and has been designed to be user-friendly for citizens with varying degrees of computer skills. The system includes an instructional “how to” guidance document to assist users with understanding the e-complaint system and allows complainants to input information about their complaint in four specific areas.
The first area is the “Complaint Details” where users provide a description of the complaint and information about when the complaint situation was observed. Next, users provide locational details such as latitude/longitude, street address, or driving instructions. The third area allows users to include up to 10 pictures with their complaint, and the fourth area allows users to include their contact information. Once these four basic steps are accomplished, the complaint is complete and officially filed with ADEM. The complaint is then immediately assigned to an inspector for investigation.
A unique feature of the e-complaint system is the ability of individuals who have filed a complaint, or any other interested party, to access the system to check the up-to-the-minute status of the complaint and retrieve all information about the complaint. Complaint information can be easily retrieved from the e-complaint system by utilizing a specific number that is assigned to each complaint, or by utilizing more generalized search parameters such as city, county, zip code, type of facility, name or address of the entity, and so forth.
During these difficult budgetary times facing all government agencies, the ability to work smarter and more efficiently is vital to maintaining services to citizens and stakeholders. Alabama’s new e-complaint system supports this effort to operate more efficiently and also enhances the services that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management provides to Alabama citizens. For a demonstration, go to www.adem.alabama.gov.
Results to Date:
- Since implementation began in February 2012, 174 complaints have been entered into the e-complaint system.
- Complaint response efforts have become more coordinated and more efficient.
- Staff time to log in complaints has been dramatically reduced.
- Service to citizens has improved, as evidenced by positive feedback from environmental groups and citizen groups on their ability to track complaint information.
Chief, Information Branch
Alabama Department of Environmental Management