DENVER – Denver has made significant progress in speeding up and organizing the building permitting process, as well as working to ensure customer satisfaction, according to a new follow-up report out this month from Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA.
“The Department of Community Planning and Development had significant challenges on its hands when my team first walked in two years ago,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Today, we see a much more efficient process and better-organized systems, which will benefit all of Denver.”
In our original August 2017 audit, we found long wait times and a disorganized filing system. The audit revealed inefficiencies in the permit intake process, resulting in a wait time of more than 1.5 hours before people could submit paperwork for residential or commercial building permits.
The office also lacked sufficient storage capabilities for the amount of construction plans submitted as part of the permit process. Approved plans for archiving were backlogged by at least six months.
When auditors returned this year to see how staff had addressed our recommendations, Auditor O’Brien was pleased to hear about significant improvements through better organization, and better training.
Starting at the end of 2018, Community Planning and Development began allowing plans to be submitted electronically. Since implementation, physical storage space is much less strained. Electronic files are organized by project type, project year, and unique project identifier. The electronic system allows plan engineers to easily identify and locate plans that are scheduled for review.
Community Planning and Development also started using a new queuing management system, which includes dashboards that update in real time and display staff assignments, the number of waiting customers at each station, and estimated customer wait times.
“It shouldn’t take hours of waiting in a line to get a building permit in Denver,” Auditor O’Brien said. “I hope the new system and good staff management will help keep the business of our growing city moving more efficiently.”
The audit team found the department is also receiving customer feedback surveys online and in hard copy. They found evidence management was addressing service issues and concerns, as well as tracking trends of frequently reported issues so they can take direct corrective action.
Community Planning and Development implemented eight of our recommendations but still has work to do on two more. The two unimplemented recommendations were related to accounting for resubmittal fees and adherence to fiscal accountability rules.
“I would like to see both of these final recommendations implemented,” Auditor O’Brien said. “It is important to track costs clearly and to manage cash correctly,” Auditor O’Brien said. “However, I commend the department for its overall work in addressing their training, organization, and customer service needs.”