Local governments are unique as regulated entities. In Missouri, 80 percent of the 960 cities are rural, many with populations smaller than 5,000. These communities – staffed by citizen mayors and aldermen with few professional staff – have a tremendous compliance burden to maintain and upgrade critical infrastructure with the economic challenges related to rural flight and poverty. In July 2014, a project proposed by Missouri was one of five projects selected by the E-Enterprise Leadership Council to showcase the value and capabilities of the E-Enterprise for the Environment initiative. A scoping team co-chaired by Missouri and U.S. EPA Region 1 included a broad coalition of stakeholders including states, tribes, trade organizations, and municipal staff. This team developed the business case and a positive return on investment analysis.
Funded by an FY15 Exchange Network grant and developed in consultation with state partner Arizona Division of Environmental Quality, Missouri designed the Local Government Portal or “Assistance Gateway” application to provide communities with customized online access to tools and resources that address their environmental compliance and infrastructure planning needs. The application was developed in the cloud using agile methodology featuring in-person user experience test sessions. It aims to enable communities to make informed decisions, save staff time and money, and provide improved service to their citizens. Key features include access to resources that match user interests, an extensive searchable resource catalogue, announcements, and an assistance wizard that returns custom recommendations based on a user’s responses to a set of questions. In addition, a web service shares the host agency’s resources with the E-Enterprise portal.
By developing this application with the “create once, deploy many” concept in mind, Missouri has helped other government entities with an ability to quickly adapt this assistance tool. Any government entity can access the source code and documentation through National Environmental Information Exchange Network. Highly configurable, the application’s administrative function allows new host agencies to change as much as possible to suit their customer needs rather than requiring information technology staff to make many changes through programming. To implement a new system, the team estimates it may take another agency approximately 48-96 staff hours.
Results to Date:
- Thirty-five users registered during Missouri soft launch, with many more are anticipated after a new marketing campaign begins;
- Reports from early users indicate that the application is useful for understanding environmental obligations and planning infrastructure; and
- Inquiries have been received from three other states and a tribe interested in deploying their own version of the portal using the code.
- To review the Missouri Gateway for Community Assistance portal, go to https://dnr.mo.gov/gca/