Auditor suggests putting permit applications online

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(Host) Vermont’s auditor of accounts wants the state’s environmental officials to put their permit applications on line. Auditor Elizabeth Ready has just completed a review of the permit process at the Department of Environmental Conservation. Department officials asked Ready to step in after they discovered a $4 million deficit in last year’s budget.

Ready says the Department is not collecting enough in permit fees to cover the costs of processing the applications. And she says the state could save time and make life easier for applicants if it transferred much of the paperwork onto the Internet.

(Ready) “Well first of all, there’s no doubt that it’s going to save money. We’ve seen here in Vermont at the Tax Department when folks are able to file electronically it’s quicker and folks don’t have to handle the paper and there are savings. We’ve seen that in other states when folks can get right on the web and file for a variety of permits and licenses online.”

(Host) Ready calls the electronic system a permit portal. She says if the system had been in place, the state wouldn’t have allowed 1,000 stormwater permits to expire over the last few years.

(Ready) “Basically we would have had a tracking system that would have brought up the fact that we had a thousand plus expired permits. They could have been flagged immediately. Applicants have could have reapplied online, they could have paid their fee online. The applicants’ attention would be drawn to compliance issues. They would have to back and assure that their systems were operating.”

(Host) Ready says that after she began her review the Environmental Conservation Department made great improvements in its financial procedures.

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