Date of Award

12-15-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Public Management and Policy

First Advisor

John Clayton Thomas

Second Advisor

Ann-Margaret Esnard

Third Advisor

Gregory Lewis

Fourth Advisor

Christine Roch

Fifth Advisor

Gregory Streib

Abstract

Prior studies have documented the expanded role of 311 non-emergency systems in public participation, public management and performance management in local governments. Three-one-one began as a simple telephone-based system for requesting non-emergency services and now plays an important role in local governments. Yet, there are very few insights into the impact of 311 systems on their public users, even as local governments increasingly turn to 311 as a public engagement tool, using it to facilitate citizen-initiated contacts. This dissertation explores two research questions. First, how has 311 technology affected citizen behavior? Second, has the introduction of a 311 system produced a more equitable pattern of participation in the administrative process by changing the profile of citizens who contact local government?

This dissertation finds that the three cities in the case studies (Denver, Minneapolis and Kansas City) faced several challenges during implementation, including managing the internal culture change associated with introducing 311 into local government. It also finds some evidence of higher contacting rates and increased equity associated with 311 use. These findings have two main policy implications. First, they highlight the importance of designing a variety of participation options to ensure that participation is open to various cross-sections of the population and to equalize access to government across venues. Second, more consideration needs to be given to the design features of an implementation plan for an innovation such as 311, ensuring a clear link between the features and specific desired outcomes, given the unique conditions of the implementation context.

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