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January 30, 2013

All-New 311 Help and Info Smartphone App
Numerous Upgrades to Come

To make contact between Houstonians and the City of Houston even more flexible, convenient, efficient and customer-­focused, 311 Help and Info users are now able to submit service requests via the new Smartphone app, the redesigned website, email or by calling the 24/7 call center.

In addition to expanded call-center hours and the new Smartphone app, 311's redesigned website,, enables Houstonians to easily submit a request for service online. Additionally, 311 has launched a new interactive mapping tool that allows Houstonians to track the progress of their request and view the status of other requests made by neighbors.

The City's 311 Help and Info leaders work constantly to expand and improve 311 functions to better meet Houston's needs. In addition to other future plans for 311, including the launch of a call-back assist program and SMS texting service requests, the next versions of the Smartphone app and website map tracking tool are already being designed.

The Houston 311 Smartphone app is available for iPhone and Android users in the App Store and Google Play market. Links to each, and a QR code that will trigger a download to your device, are provided at at the bottom of the page or directly at The city has also created an app resource page at


Hire Houston First Update: Keeping City Business Local

First year results for the city's Hire Houston First (HHF) program are now available. As of September 30, 2012, more than $139 million of city business had been awarded to designated Hire Houston First firms, sustaining more than 6,000 jobs. This encompassed 895 formal bid contracts for construction and purchasing contracts as well as informal non-contract purchase orders. 81 percent of the time, HHF companies won the formal bid contracts because they submitted the lowest bids. The other 19 percent of the time the city utilized the local preference component of HHF to award the work to the local firm. The majority of these formal bid contracts were for construction work.

HHF allows the city to consider a vendor's principle place of business and to grant preference to local businesses in awarding certain city contracts. For contracts under $100,000, the city may select the local firm's price if it is within five percent of the lowest bid from an out-of-town company. For contracts exceeding $100,000, there can be no more than a three percent difference between the out-of-town low bid and the next highest offer from a local vendor.

The total number of HHF designated firms is 617, an average of 51 new approvals each month. 322 of these companies have never been awarded contracts by the city. The remaining 295 have had at least one city contract. Out of 68 prime contracts awarded to HHF firms, 61 went to firms that had previously been awarded city contracts. The remaining seven contracts went to HHF firms that have never worked for the city prior to their HHF designation. Their contracts totaled $2.7 million. 532 of the 617 approved applications are in Harris County. The numbers are expected to grow as the city's Office of Business Opportunity steps up outreach to get more companies registered in the second year of the program.

To qualify for designation, businesses must meet at least one of two requirements:

  • Be headquartered in the incorporated city limits or the eight local counties of Harris, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller, or
  • Have 20 percent or more of the entity's workforce and a substantial part of its operations regularly based within the city limits or the eight counties.

For more information about HHF, contact Neil Polansky at or 832.393.0951. To learn more about the city's Office of Business Opportunity, visit


Free Flu Shots for Children One Day Only

The Houston Fire Department (HFD) and the Care Van program will be offering free flu shots for children up to 18 years of age on Saturday, February 2, 2013. Parent(s) or legal guardian must accompany their child(ren). Immunization records are not necessary.

Saturday, February 2, 2013
11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
HFD Val Jahnke Training Facility
8030 Braniff, Houston 77061

Those not covered by insurance for vaccines

Sorry but NO CHIP clients will be accepted

For more information including a map to the Val Jahnke Training Facility, visit

For questions contact Paul Box with the Houston Fire Department Public Affairs Division at or 832.394.6636.

Working smoke detectors save lives. It's just that simple. Test yours today!

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Council Members: Helena Brown • Jerry Davis • Ellen R. Cohen • Wanda Adams • Dave Martin • Al Hoang • Oliver Pennington • Edward Gonzalez • James G. Rodriguez • Mike Laster • Larry V. Green • Stephen C. Costello • Andrew C. Burks, Jr. • Melissa Noriega • C.O. “Brad” Bradford • Jack Christie
Controller: Ronald C. Green