Building department leaders: Salem makes system-wide improvements to permitting and building approval processes
In the Building and Safety Division at the city of Salem, Ore., improving processes has resulted in significant positive impacts on perception, purpose and performance. The city serves about 175,000 residents across 48 square miles. The Building and Safety Division maintains a staff of 26. According to Salem Administrator/Building Official Rebai Tamerhoulet, P.E., S.E., his team pursued International Accreditation Service (IAS) Building Department Accreditation for three primary reasons: to determine service goals and monitor departmental performance; build greater predictability and consistency into their services; and capture data that could improve consistency, accountability and transparency.
To prepare for accreditation, the Building and Safety Division team developed a quality assurance program, collected data to recognize areas needing improvement, set specific service goals and created various checklists.
Throughout the accreditation process, the team addressed many value-added opportunities that resulted in improved processes and procedures — measures that could benefit any building department. They instituted a process that provides a project coordinator to help expedite the development and permitting processes. They also named two deputy fire marshals as plans examiners to provide fire review and coordination. In addition, they developed a “Plan Review Roundtable” as a one-stop shop to get an applicant through the review and permitting process. They also established a 10-day turnaround guarantee for single-family dwellings, customized their permitting process and streamlined on-site plan reviews for tenant improvements.
Is your team ready for IAS accreditation?
The Salem Building and Safety Division team recommends that any building department considering IAS accreditation should cultivate buy-in from staff, be open to changing the status quo and focus first on establishing a quality assurance program. 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.