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City Controller Calls 311 System A “Glorified Answering Service”

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – An audit that is critical of the Philly 3-1-1 system shows that it’s a $6-million “glorified answering service,” according to City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

Butkovitz says 3-1-1 is not meeting any of the key goals Mayor Nutter established, including off-loading non-emergency calls.

butkovitzalan bytawa City Controller Calls 311 System A Glorified Answering Service

Alan Butkovitz (credit: Steve Tawa)

“311 has not alleviated the pressure of non-emergency calls to 911. In fact, the reduction in non-emergency calls to 911 has been virtually non-existent.”

Of the more than 1.3-million calls that came into the 311 system in 2010, Butkovitz says only seven percent were monitored. He says that makes it difficult to evaluate, track and code 3-1-1 calls to determine if city services were properly delivered.

“There’s no excuse for allowing 93 percent of all 311 calls to go un-monitored.”

City Managing Director Rich Negrin points out that figure includes folks who get what they need through recorded information and hang up without speaking to a call agent. Negrin says an independent firm’s data shows the customer satisfaction score has improved markedly since its initial 68 percent figure in 2009.

“Philly 311 has a 93 percent customer satisfaction score.”

Negrin says the customer satisfaction score is the number they care most about.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio

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  • j. burns

    Unfortunately, Controller Alan Butkovitz’s report, was inaccurate and is in stark contrast to the 2010 Pew Charitable Trusts 20-page findings.

    The audit, which the Controller outsourced to a private auditing firm with no public sector call center auditing experience, asserted that 311 does not catalog or code the reasons for 97% of calls into the operations. That is simply wrong.

    All calls answered by a 311 agent are cataloged and coded, including calls related to general information, directory assistance and service requests. That data is often used by City Agencies and Departments to improve their service delivery and proactively anticipate and meet the needs of their customers.

  • miahmdparash


    It’s a nice article it will help my research.


  • CC


    you can almost see the next step coming can’t you…lets drop 311

  • CC

    where did you get your auditors certification? report the facts not comments meant to incite like “glorified answering service” you did an audit on something you could not accurately measure so you have to knock it when there’s a 93% customer satisfaction rating. i’m one of those persons satisfied with it. not just satisfied. it makes me feel my input and my tax dollars are at work. and if it’s not meeting the goals for alleviating 911 calls there are certainly other factors to consider. especially the fact that people are still unfamiliar that this service is available. show me one call that came into 911 that said…the stop sign on my corner is falling down. DON’T USE THIS PERSONS SLANTED AUDIT BE A REASON TO DROP 311!

  • resident

    i disagree, if you visit seeclickfix you’ll see that philly 311 serves as a clearing house and accountability system for incoming complaints. it’s the other city services (LI, parks, city council) that have dropped the ball.

  • Incredulous

    Let me get this straight – the fact that 93% of calls are successfully answered by automated FAQ’s and don’t take up the time of a high paid politician, is a bad thing? Okie dokie!

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