The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is embarking on a crucial project to enhance its customer communication systems. Managing water, sewer, and wastewater facilities for millions, DEP aims to enrich the environment and protect public health. With over 835,000 accounts, the Bureau of Customer Services generates over $4 billion in annual revenue, necessitating improved external communications. The DEP is partnering with FUSE to develop and implement a sophisticated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system led by FUSE Executive Fellow Mary Austin Harrelson.

Starting in April 2024, Harrelson will navigate the complexities of DEP, gather requirements, and collaborate with vendors to design and test the CRM. The project aims to streamline communication through email, texting, and phone calls, ensuring faster and higher-quality customer service. Harrelson will also play a pivotal role in training employees and implementing a new customer communication strategy, ultimately strengthening trust in local government. Harrelson will spearhead the identification, procurement, and implementation of the CRM, integrating it with existing systems, training employees, and establishing best practices. Through collaboration with stakeholders, she will gain a deep understanding of DEP’s mission and current communication limitations, envisioning how the CRM can enhance public trust. This one-year fellowship will focus on information gathering, project scoping, design collaboration, testing, and implementation, all with the goal of optimizing customer communication and operational efficiency within DEP.