The Problem

In 2012, the City of Chicago Department of Finance Utility Billing and Customer Service (DoF), in conjunction with the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) issued a TOR for a re-write of their Online Full Payment Certificate Application. The City of Chicago requires a Full Payment Certificate (FPC) for all real estate transactions. An FPC confirms that the seller of a property has paid their utility bill in full, and its issuance formally moves the seller out of the property utility account and moves the buyer in.


The DoF and DoIT sought to modernize their existing, outdated platform while also making utility data available to title companies and city processors through a web-based platform with incorporated analytics. The outdated application components did not account for future compatibility with multiple browsers, mobile devices, and tablets, and it was not developed using the basic core JEE services compatible with future Java Runtime Environment (JRE) versions. The legacy environment had major flaws and an obsolete technology stack.

Our Solution

Catalyst engineers got to work learning the ins and outs of the real estate transaction and utility billing process, partnering with team leaders to develop an application that not only fit the DoF’s needs, but had the scalability to ensure longevity. The team used Java best practices and application development standards to ensure that the application could be successfully deployed to the City’s WebLogic JEE environment and seamlessly integrate with other City systems.

In addition to developing a responsive bootstrap-based application, Catalyst developed three web services in order to interface with the City’s Banner database and eCheckout application. These integrations facilitated a smooth completion of each FPC application. The completed application utilizes approval paths between title companies, DoF processors, and Water Department

Field Reviewers, and includes the ability to attach supporting documentation to each application, which sped up the application process and removed manual process triggers between the departments. The completed OFPC application was the first application to reside in the City of Chicago’s new Exadata environment, an environment set up to streamline the use of big data in order to better serve the City’s constituents.

Impact & Results

The OFPC application increased the amount of applications completed online from 15% to 87%. The average number of days to process an application reduced from approximately 10  to .93

Approximately 550 field reviews are completed each month through a previously nonexistent field review portal