Building department leaders: Plano Building Department helps define “City of Excellence”
In the North Texas suburb of Plano, Texas, Chief Building Official Selso Mata believes in departmental accreditations. “Plano has seven other accredited departments in our city,” he said. “Providing the best service to our citizens and creating a progressive city is an important part of what Plano strives to deliver every day. It is part of our DNA and boldly emblazoned across our city logo is: “Plano: City of Excellence.”
Building Department accreditation was a goal for Mata and his team for many years. “Accreditation will test you,” he said. “But if you measure up and meet the challenge, achieving accreditation will verify that your department is qualified to protect the citizens in your community.”
With a population approaching 300,000, all within about a 70 square mile area, Plano has its challenges keeping up with growth and change. Its Plano Building Inspections Department staff of 42 have plenty to do. Accreditation helped them streamline their processes. “The criteria helped us document our important work procedures,” said Mata. “This created a library of information that promotes consistency in all we do.”
“Building departments often fly under the radar; but building codes and their implementation are the first line of defense against disasters and maintaining a safe, sustainable city. Now, with the credibility of IAS accreditation, our community is better able to understand our role in providing safe buildings throughout our city.”
— Selso Mata, Chief Building Official, Plano, Texas
Mata says the team had to look at their department and coordinate many daily tasks that comprise what a building inspection department does. “The International Accreditation Service criteria provided a baseline for establishing our work processes,” he said. “Splitting up the tasks into team exercises helped us internally and created a sense of team spirit. Together, we were able to complete the job and prepare the department for accreditation review and assessment. It was a demanding process but an extremely rewarding one.”
Mata also explained that his team created a hybrid plan review system for cataloging and permitting projects. They review paper plans and mark them up with review comments and stickers, following a plan review checklist. Then, they convert the reviewed plans into an electronic file using a large flatbed scanner. The paper plan is given to the contractor for field construction along with their permit. “Internally we file the electronic plan set in Laserfiche for easy access from any department computer,” he added. “We have electronic capability in plan review using Bluebeam software.”
In Plano, accreditation was a building block that improved planning and processes. 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.