The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Improves Customer Interactions and Service with Okta

Over 68,000

new users since implementing Access DC

Over 780,000

s through the Okta platform


of customers rated their experience with DCRA as “excellent” or “satisfactory”

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  • Supporting hundreds of thousands of people
  • A frictionless experience
  • Better security, no multiple logins
  • Greater scalability and speed
  • Tens of thousands of new users
Supporting hundreds of thousands of people

Hundreds of thousands of people rely on DCRA for permits, business licenses, and more. But applying for these documents through the DCRA website used to be a time-consuming, confusing, and complicated process.

A frictionless experience

DCRA needed to make it easier for people to apply for permits, renew licenses, submit requests, and more. Agency administrators turned to Okta’s Single Sign-on and Identity Access Management solutions to create a frictionless and secure experience.

Better security, no multiple logins

With these technologies, DCRA easily manages user access. Customers can sign onto any of the site’s many applications without the need for multiple usernames or passwords.

Greater scalability and speed

Through Okta, DCRA has been able to meet unprecedented demands brought on by COVID-19. Okta’s cloud-based solution brings scalability and speed, resulting in happier customers.

Tens of thousands of new users

Since implementing Okta, DCRA has recorded tens of thousands of new users and unique logins. The feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive.

Okta’s solutions met our requirements, and we were pleased with the team and their ability to help us move the needle on digital transformation and get to where we needed to be.

Ernest Chrappah, Director, DCRA


  • Customers can sign into multiple applications using a single set of credentials
  • Single Sign-on makes it easier for administrators to keep track of customers’ logins and requests
  • Greater visibility into customers’ interactions improves customer service
  • Easy integration with DCRA’s CRM solution provides a complete picture of customers’ interactions across all DCRA platforms
  • Centralized Identity Access Management provides advanced security controls
  • Self-service platform is simple for customers to use
  • Cloud-based service allows DCRA to easily scale to meet demand and create new applications faster

The District of Columbia comprises just over 68 square miles, but with more than 700,000 residents, tens of thousands of businesses, and millions of annual visitors, it’s one of the most densely packed and vibrant urban areas in the United States. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) protects the health, safety and economic interests of every person and business in the District by ensuring D.C. businesses remain code compliant and operate within established regulations.

Citizens and business owners routinely interact with DCRA through the agency’s online portal, requesting permits, business licenses, housing inspections, and more. The agency has hundreds of thousands of customers accessing multiple applications for these different services.

Managing these logins has historically been a massive challenge, says Pedro Agosto, Chief Information Officer, DCRA. 

“Each service that we offer used to have its own application, and customers had to create unique user credentials to access those applications,” Ernest Chrappah, Director of DCRA explains. “The problem is many people use different applications and services. For instance, a person applying for a business license may also need to apply for a home inspection; they would need to remember different usernames and passwords for each request.”

This was also a headache for DCRA administrators. “There could be a nuance in the person’s name, or a difference in the login they used,” says Chrappah. “It wasn’t always easy to correlate if it was the same person using multiple applications, which limited administrators’ abilities to help our customers.”

From many credentials to one

Like many government agencies, DCRA was interested in improving its citizen services by reducing the number of hurdles individuals faced when interacting with the organization. Key to this effort was reducing the number of credentials users needed to keep track of when interacting with the DCRA.

“We wanted to improve customer satisfaction and facilitate better online engagement with the people we serve,” says Chrappah. “But that was just a piece of what we needed to do. Internally, we wanted to improve understanding of how users interact with the agency so we could service them better.”

The agency began considering implementing Identity Access Management and Single Sign-On solutions. They wanted to allow users to sign onto any application through a single set of user credentials and improve security through centralized access controls. “We wanted to make things easier for our customers while enabling multi-factor authentication and adaptive security-based profiles,” explains Chrappah.

Managing the “new normal”

The organization also needed a solution to address new challenges posed by COVID-19, including increased cybersecurity risks and unprecedented spikes in demand. DCRA needed to adapt to this new environment quickly.

“We extended online access to services to keep constituents from having to visit our office, but our legacy systems were not able to keep up with the dramatic increase in users,” Chrappah says. “We needed a cloud-based system that allowed us to service these users securely and without interruption.”

A focus on security, simplicity, and integration

After developing a strategy and compiling a list of requirements, Chrappah and his team began assessing vendors. They knew they wanted to work with a customer-focused vendor with software that met the following criteria:

  • Centralized identity access management for better security
  • Single Sign-On capabilities to allow users to access multiple applications with one set of credentials
  • A cloud-based, easy-to-use, self-service system
  • Simple integration with the DCRA’s CRM system

From the start, “Okta was the right choice,” says Chrappah. “Okta’s solutions met our requirements, and we were pleased with the team and their ability to help us get to where we needed to be.”

Implementing Okta for Single Sign-On and Identity Access Management

DCRA manages over a dozen cloud and on-premises applications that cater to hundreds of thousands of users. The agency began onboarding these applications one at a time to the Okta platform, starting with Okta’s Single Sign-On technology. This enabled users to come to the site, register for an account, and access any application – without needing to create unique usernames and passwords for every service and request.

The agency also needed an efficient way to oversee security on the DCRA site. Agosto and his team implemented Okta’s Identity Access Management (IAM) solution, which allowed administrators to easily manage and monitor user access from a centralized dashboard. “Having an IAM system in place allows us to up level our security through Multi-Factor Authentication and adaptive security-based profiles,” explains Chrappah.

CRM integration for better customer service

Next, the team integrated the Okta platform into the DCRA’s CRM system, Kustomer. This was critical to expanding and enhancing the interactions the DCRA had with customers across all the agency’s channels.

“We have a lot of people who come to us via social media, chatbots, or who simply email or call into the agency with questions and requests,” says Chrappah. “Integrating Okta into Kustomer allows us to correlate the communications that are managed through the CRM platform with a verified customer from our Okta accounts.”

This integration provides DCRA administrators with valuable information pertaining to an individual’s past interactions with the agency. “When an administrator pulls up a person’s record, they have access to all of the interactions that person has ever had with DCRA – emails, chats, phone calls, the last time they logged into one of our services, and more,” notes Chrappah. “It really helps our team provide more personalized, accurate, and informed service.”

Greater speed and scalability

Okta also provides DCRA with a highly scalable cloud-based services solution easily handles dramatic increases in users and scales up or down as necessary. DCRA customers have easy access to information and services online, without the need to physically visit an office or call in via phone.

Okta also allows DCRA to develop and innovate faster than before. The agency can quickly build all new applications and update legacy apps and regularly provide constituents with new and improved services.

Tens of thousands of happy customers

Only a few months after deploying Okta’s solutions, DCRA recorded more than 68,000 new user accounts, with applications receiving tens of thousands of unique logins. Users’ reactions to the new and improved portal have been overwhelmingly positive. “I’ve heard from many people that this change has made people’s interactions with our agency much easier,” says Chrappah.

About the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

DCRA is responsible for regulating construction and business activity in the District of Columbia. The agency issues construction permits after reviews of construction documents to ensure compliance with building codes and zoning regulations. Construction activity, buildings, and rental housing establishments are inspected and housing code violations are abated, if necessary. To protect consumers, DCRA issues business and professional licenses, registers corporations, inspects weighing and measuring devices used for monetary profit, and issues special events permits.