San Diego’s ‘Get it Done!’ App Often Gives Inaccurate, Incomplete or Confusing Information – New Audit Reports

by on October 17, 2022 · 2 comments

in San Diego

City agrees to boost accuracy, but rejects proposal to join other big cities with 3-1-1 systems

A Public Service Announcement

By David Garrick, Elizabeth Marie Himchak / San Diego Union-Tribune / Oct. 12, 2022

A new audit says San Diego must improve the accuracy and clarity of its Get it Done! tipster app to reverse a recent dip in customer satisfaction with the app, which allows people to conveniently report potholes, graffiti and other problems.

The six-year-old app often gives customers inaccurate, incomplete or confusing information about when the problem they reported will be solved and when there has been progress toward that goal, the 48-page audit says.

Robin Kaufman, president of the Rancho Bernardo Community Council and RB Planning Board, said the app is a good idea, but could use improvements.

“When first designed it was slow moving, but a good concept,” Kaufman said. “People would call their town council or planning group, (who) would contact the different departments or the City Council office. It’s alleviated the middle person through educating the public on how to use it.”

Kaufman said the app’s effectiveness “really went downhill” during the pandemic. She said the city lost many employees, a contributing factor to timely repairs and addressing situations, especially when it comes to street lights.

“For streetlights there is a massive wait list,” Kaufman said, noting the city has few workers to fix street lights. Consequently, repairs can take several months.

The audit also recommends San Diego catch up with most major U.S. cities and other large cities in California by establishing a centralized 3-1-1 phone intake option for complaints and service requests.

A 3-1-1 system, which would serve as a complement to Get it Done!, would boost equity by making it easier for non-English speakers and people who are technologically challenged to report problems, auditors said.

The audit says a 3-1-1 system could also boost the city’s emergency response times by shifting calls away from the Police Department’s non-emergency line.

Phone calls remain the preferred option for reporting problems to the city. The city receives nearly 1 million requests by phone per year compared to approximately 300,000 annual Get It Done! requests.

In response to the findings, city officials agreed to make all the recommended changes to Get it Done! Those changes include giving customers estimated completion dates for reported problems and interim progress reports.

The city will also create new training programs so employees give more accurate information, and create procedures for supervisors to review communications between city workers and people who submit Get it Done! requests.

But most of the changes won’t be made until next summer or the end of 2023, the audit says.

Kaufman recalled reporting a missing street sign for Robleda Court at its intersection with Bernardo Trails Drive in Rancho Bernardo’s The Trails neighborhood. She reported it on May 12, 2021 and did not receive a response until July 9, 2022.

“It was 14 months later that the report was closed and taken care of, just to replace a street sign,” she said.

Her experience is not an isolated case, based on comments she has heard from others. Kaufman also said the council members’ offices have no pull to get cases resolved faster.

Potholes and burned-out street lights are problems that have the longest delays, she said. Graffiti reports tend to be resolved quicker, as do missed trash collection reports, she said.

“I’ve noticed that when residents ask for red curbs to be painted or repainted those are closed quickly, within three or four months,” Kaufman said.

City officials rejected the audit’s recommendation to establish a 3-1-1 system, contending that a central phone line for complaints would further erode customer satisfaction by making it easier to submit complaints the city can’t quickly solve.

Officials said they need to improve city services and the capacity to respond to complaints before confronting what they expect would be a sharp increase in the number of complaints coming in.

“Done out of order, the city would be providing better access to a broken system, where customers are able to report issues in more ways, but where no resources have been allocated to improve how quickly or effectively those issues are resolved,” wrote Kirby Brady, the city’s chief innovation officer.

City Auditor Andy Hanau said concerns about San Diego being flooded with too many complaints to handle are legitimate.

“But the solution is not to perpetuate a situation that makes it harder for people with limited English proficiency or limited tech expertise and resources to access city services,” Hanau said.

City officials could work on a plan for creating a 3-1-1 system while simultaneously boosting the city’s ability to handle more complaints efficiently, he said.

“Does Get It Done work? Yes, but it needs to be revamped,” Kaufman said. “There are not enough city employees in the departments, so jobs are not completed” in a timely manner.

Of the 10 most populated cities in the nation, only San Diego and Phoenix don’t have 3-1-1 systems. Of the 10 most populated cities in California, only San Diego, Long Beach and Bakersfield lack 3-1-1 systems.

Similar to a 9-1-1 system, a 3-1-1 system would allow callers direct access to a city hotline for complaints. Such systems were launched by many cities in the 1990s, Hanau said.

The audit comes as the number of annual reports to the Get it Done! app has nearly doubled since 2018, primarily because city officials have expanded the different types of problems that can be reported to more than 60.

The number of reports climbed from 148,946 in 2018 to 296,209 in 2021. Meanwhile, overall customer satisfaction fell from 3.4 to 3.1 on a scale of 1 to 5.

Customer satisfaction varies widely by type of problem reported. Requests pertaining to encampments, missed trash collection and parking generally fell the most between 2018 and 2021.

The audit says a key factor in low satisfaction ratings are the app frequently telling customers that their case is “closed” when the problem hasn’t actually been solved.

Typically, city officials have marked the case closed because nothing can immediately be done by the city.

The audit says that’s often because the problem is on private property or land located in another city, or because a fix is planned as part of a larger upcoming project. A sampling by auditors estimated that 19 percent of requests receive a false “closed” message.

In response to the audit, city officials agreed to provide customers details beyond just saying the case is closed.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie October 17, 2022 at 3:22 pm

Judi Curry and Colleen O’Connor should be on this one.


Frank J October 18, 2022 at 1:03 pm

After submitting at least 10 ‘Get-It-Done’ requests in 2020-21, I gave up. At least 25 lamps are out on the MB PB boardwalk. Traffic lights on Garnet turn red 3 times a minute for no reason. Infrastructure and smaller safety concerns abound. I wonder if the pension system’s costs to the city are still around $3B, or more with the stock market down. Obviously diverting money that could be used for public services. Diane Shipione…. Are you busy? We need help.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: