Building department leaders: Accreditation leads to enhanced agency perception
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in Washington, D.C., has a big job. Its staff — in coordination with more than 200 third-party planners and inspectors — is involved in regulating construction and business activity throughout the District of Columbia. The agency provides a consolidated permit-intake center and reviews construction documents to assure that plans comply with the district’s building codes and zoning regulations. Their third-party inspection teams monitor construction activity, buildings and rental housing.
To demonstrate that the DCRA operates at a high-performance level, and to identify any practices or procedures in need of improvement, the team undertook the process of achieving International Accreditation Service (IAS) Building Department Accreditation. The program is designed for governmental agencies and third parties providing building department services that are proactively seeking to improve their organization. Participants cite program benefits such as increased efficiencies, improved decision making and enhanced public confidence. According to DCRA Acting Director Ernest Chrappah, his department achieved progress in performance related to permitting, plan reviews and inspections. He also noted an improved perception of the department, both in the District of Columbia and nationwide, among other building officials.
“The International Accreditation Service’s building accreditation demonstrates that the district is committed to implementing best practices for public safety and meets nationally recognized building standards,” said Chrappah. “It also further ensures the integrity of our building department, our staff and the quality of service that we offer under Mayor Bowser’s administration. We are honored to be the 24th government organization nationwide to receive accreditation by IAS.”
Commitment from the top
Chrappah affirms that the accreditation process requires a commitment from a department’s leaders. He says that the most important advice he can offer potential accreditation candidates is to make sure top management supports the accreditation process and is willing to devote staff time and the resources needed to undertake and successfully complete the accreditation activities. “The process also requires a willingness to look closely at existing processes and make systemwide changes,” he said.
“We are honored to be the 24th government organization nationwide to receive accreditation by IAS.”
— DCRA Acting Director Ernest Chrappah
Accreditation has led to greater staff focus on quality of services and on customer satisfaction as a result of the quality assurance standard operating procedures implemented by DCRA during the accreditation process. Their procedures require quarterly staff performance reviews and the tracking of customer satisfaction metrics. In addition, division leads must present a quality assurance report to the executive team bi-annually, which identifies areas for improvement.
Accreditation has had a measurable impact on the DCRA and its team. If your building department could benefit from new ideas and system enhancements, IAS provides a one-day training program for individuals interested in better understanding the requirements for the accreditation of building departments and third-party providers of building department services.
This article is part of series from the International Accreditation Service (IAS) profiling building departments and third-party service providers accredited by IAS — a non-profit accreditation body and a subsidiary of the International Code Council. Building Department Accreditation and Building Department Third-Party Service Providers Accreditation are two of the programs offered by IAS to provide evidence that departments have met a national accreditation standard and are competent to provide public safety services for their communities. To learn more about these accreditation programs, visit Building Department Accreditation and Building Department Third-Party Service Providers Accreditation.