PROVIDENCE, RI – The City of Providence’s License
Administrator/Registrar of Vital Statistics Heather Kilkenny today joined Chief
Innovation Officer Emmanuel Echevarria, staff from the Board of Licenses and
Brewmaster and Founder of Revival Brewing Company Sean Larkin, at Providence
City Hall for a demonstration of the City’s online licensing system. The system
is a result of efforts by Mayor Elorza and City Council officials to modernize
licensing processes and make it easier and more convenient for businesses to
apply and renew licenses.
“This is another step we are taking to make Providence the
most innovative City Hall in New England,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “As a
result, business owners can spend more time on their businesses and not waiting
in line at City Hall. I encourage everyone renewing or applying for a license
to try it out today.”
As shown during the demonstration, business owners can visit
and select Apply Online
which will lead them to the online system offering various options for permits
and licenses. A user account will be required to complete an online application
that can be paid with credit card or electronic check. As part of the system,
Viewpoint offers three application options to choose from once an applicant is
logged on. Viewpoint combines applications eliminating the need for applicants
to submit duplicate information that is repeated across multiple applications.
Currently, the City’s Department of Inspection and Standards and the Vital
Records Office accept credit card payments in office.
“I’m pleased that the Licensing Office has taken steps
toward a more efficient and accessible platform where new businesses can now
apply for licenses online,” said Ward 5 Councilwoman and Majority Whip, Jo-Ann
Ryan. “This approach of better utilization of technology is a step in the right
direction, and consistent with the recommendations set forth in last year’s
report by Former Attorney General Jeff Pine on the overall operations of the
department. The Council will continue to monitor the progress of the
implementation of these recommendations, and looks forward to additional
changes to better serve the needs of businesses and constituents city-wide,”
The system supports applications for all licenses except for
Body Works Licenses. This includes Liquor Licenses; Entertainment/ Event and
One Day Vendor Licenses for entities that are authorized to have monthly
entertainment or are applying for a one-time event or a raffle; and New Food,
Restaurant, Tobacco or Petroleum Licenses. The system also processes Building,
Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, and Raze Building Permits.
The news follows a number of improvements made in the
Department of Licensing since Mayor Elorza took office in 2015. In response to
feedback from the business community, the administration has worked with City
Council, Board of License Commissioners and business owners to improve
policies, procedures, and service. In November 2016, Mayor Elorza introduced a
Licensing Kiosk to the business community to streamline licensing processes and
improve customer experience.
Additional changes include the continuation of pre-hearing
conferences for incident violations and penalties that has reduced the hearing
procedure and streamlined the violations process, started in August 2016. In
November 2016, Board meetings were moved to take place in the Probate Courtroom
at City Hall to a larger, more formal and more accessible location.
Additionally, night hearings began as of October 2016 to enhance transparency
and accessibility. Board members have also undergone ethics and diversity
training. Revised department procedures have been drafted and are expected to
be implemented in the near future.
As a result of administrative changes to past processes,
customer wait times have decreased by 40-50% on average through the physical
reorganization of licensing office space over the past two years. During this
time, staff members in the Licensing Office were engaged in innovative customer
service training and through process improvement-- forty different applications
for licensing have been consolidated to seven forms to increase customer access
and expedite the processing of applications.
In an effort to continuously improve transparency, the Board
of Licenses will now host monthly evening hearings for new liquor and 1AM to
4AM licenses. These meetings will be held every fourth Tuesday of the month,
with the exception of December due to the holidays. For 2017, meetings are
schedule for September 26, October 24, November 28, and December 19.