DCRA Debuts Pilot Databases

  • February 26th 2019

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Earlier this year, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) came under interim leadership and a bill to split the agency in two was reintroduced in DC Council.

Now, the agency is pressing forward with an effort to make itself more accessible. Yesterday, DCRA announced the release of two database tools that aim to increase transparency.

The first is the relaunch of a database that gives the public access to download copies of various pending applications and approved building permits and plans. The documents on the site provide more detail than what would be available in a typical permit search.

So far, the database only has documents between fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2017; it will be regularly updated with older documents and the intention is to make as much information available as possible.

“The database was launched to provide information on projects that could impact District neighborhoods and commercial areas," DCRA acting director Ernest Chrappah said in a statement. "It’s also an effort on our part to raise the level of convenience and transparency with the services that we have. We understand that our customers are eager for information and we’re working each day to deliver on their expectations.”

Towards that end, the agency also released a Dashboard feature that displays a myriad of statistics on how well DCRA is doing at meeting various goals and benchmarks for reviews, inspections, reporting and the like. So far, the tool hasn't won everyone over. 

Courtesy of Twitter. Click to enlarge.

As noted in the above tweet from ANC 6C commissioner and long-time DCRA critic Mark Eckenweiler, the dashboard doesn't offer plans so much as it gives macro-level statistics on the agency's performance. While the dashboard may improve accountability, both tools in tandem are a good step in the right direction for the agency.

Clarification: The database has been available for more than a year, but has been relaunched to give users the ability to download documents.

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dcra-debuts-pilot-databases/15051.

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