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City of Charlotte’s EPLAN Review Program Wins Harvard "Bright Idea" Award
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Contact: Jim Banbury, 704-336-3610
jbanbury@charlottenc.gov


Today the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University recognized the City of Charlotte’s EPLAN Review Program as one of its "Bright Ideas" and a top innovative government initiative.
 
The EPLAN program  allows development plans to be submitted for review electronically in-lieu of paper plans. This substantially reduces costs, saves time and allows collaborative on-screen review of development plans by multiple reviewers on a single electronic file instead of many paper plan sets.
 
“This was a program we were able to create using existing technology with minimal added costs,” said David Weekly, Land Development Division Manager for the City of Charlotte. “It has been enthusiastically endorsed by the development community, with all plan reviews now done electronically.”
 
This new solution, focused on simplicity for the customer, uses email to transfer PDF files and make them accessible to reviewers with different agencies.  Land Development’s web-based permit tracking software, Accela, also allows for long-term file archiving.  Without much technical analysis or structured project plan, the City implemented the EPLAN option in 2010, with conversion to 100% electronic submittal in January, 2012. 
 
“Government innovation does not require endless resources and generous budgets,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center. “As exemplified by this year’s Bright Ideas, some of our country’s smartest innovations can in fact reduce government’s size while serving our citizens more efficiently and effectively.”

The EPLAN review program is one of 111 initiatives recognized by “Bright Ideas” this year. They come from all levels of government—including school districts, county, city, state, and federal agencies as well as public-private partnerships—and demonstrates a creative range of solutions to issues such as urban and rural degradation, environmental problems, and the academic achievement of students. Programs were evaluated and selected by a team of policy experts from academic and public sectors.  
 

For more information on Bright Ideas, contact:                             For information on EPLAN Review, contact:
Kate Hoagland, Ash Center                                                           David Weekly, Land Development Manager 
617-495-4347, kate_hoagland@harvard.edu                               704-336-4103, dweekly@charlottenc.gov