FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Zoe Ades, Communications Director
COUNCILMEMBER PINTO INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO INCREASE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY AT THE OFFICE OF UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS
Today, Councilmember Brooke Pinto introduced legislation to require the Office of Unified Communications (OUC), which manages DC’s 911 and 311 systems, to provide the public with regular updates and data sharing to increase transparency. The Office of Unified Communications Transparency and Accuracy Amendment Act provides the public with information regarding OUC’s operations, efficacy, and accuracy, thereby increasing accountability for an agency that has struggled with public trust. In addition, the legislation updates the 311 system to add several additional service requests including porous flexible pavement sidewalk repairs, leaf collection, and electrical wires and utility pole repairs. The legislation is co-introduced by Councilmembers Christina Henderson and Zachary Parker.
In recent years, significant errors at OUC, including inaccurate dispatches and delays in responses, have had disastrous consequences and have undermined the health and safety of District residents. While OUC has committed to addressing the underlying issues that led to these unacceptable errors, public trust remains low and the agency still struggles with ensuring accuracy and timeliness. This legislation is aimed to address both of these issues by first, increasing information available to the public and second, requiring that OUC track and analyze the causes and frequency of errors so that systems can be remedied. This legislation establishes requirements to publicly post data on the number of shifts operated under minimum staffing levels, the number of call-taker and dispatcher errors as well as the cause of those errors, the agency’s call to answer response times, and the number and type of 911 misuse calls. This legislation also would require the agency to post data on the number of 911 calls in the call queue for over 15 seconds, the national standard, and the number of those calls that are dropped by the caller.
“OUC is a critical part of our public safety apparatus and it is crucial that the agency is functioning with accuracy, efficiency, and timeliness. Patterns of errors at OUC are unacceptable especially with so much at stake in emergency situations,” said Councilmember Pinto. “I have heard and appreciate the public calls for accountability and as I partner with OUC to address these issues, I am confident this legislation will ensure the improvements to the systems and processes of OUC that are necessary to regain public trust and see better outcomes for District residents.”
The “Office of Unified Communications Amendment Act of 2023” would: