SAN FRANCISCO—On September 16, the Mayor of San Francisco issued an Executive Directive to the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) requiring the department to take additional actions to prevent misconduct, increase transparency, improve processes, and make the Department more effective at providing services for San Francisco residents.
According to the Mayor’s Office, the Executive Directive is the result of an independent review of DBI conducted by the Controller and the City Attorney, which the mayor requested. Previously the Controller and the City Attorney issued six similar reports relating to other departments. Following those reports, the mayor issued similar Executive Directives to implement their proposed reforms and take proactive steps to improve the Departments.
“Every City department must operate with the highest level of integrity and transparency, and all City employees must hold themselves to the highest ethical standards in their work,” said Mayor Breed. “When that does not happen, it is our responsibility as leaders to understand what went wrong and take steps to prevent future misconduct. The Controller’s report issued today documents an unacceptable pattern of misconduct and systemic failures under the previous leadership of the Department of Building Inspection. It describes a culture that allowed for continued wrongdoing set by a ‘tone at the top’ that failed to institute ethical leadership and guidelines. The people of San Francisco deserve better.
When a resident or a business interacts with the City, they deserve transparency, accessibility, and a timely response. When a City department relies on an opaque, antiquated, overly-bureaucratic system, it not only fails to meet those standards, it also creates an environment that allows corruption to flourish. This Executive Directive and the work ahead of us are focused on delivering systemic and fundamental change at the Department of Building Inspection. This change will benefit everyone who interacts with the Department as well as the staff members who work hard and follow the rules. I want to thank the Controller and the City Attorney for their continued work on this effort. I am also appreciative of the initial reform efforts and the new tone being set by the current leadership at the Department of Building Inspection to address these longstanding issues, but we have a lot more work to do.”
Today’s Executive Directive issued requires the following:
-Additional sharing of information for staff and the public on the City’s Whistleblower program to increase reporting of questionable behavior;
-Improving procedures for identifying possible irregularities in the plan review and inspections procedures;
-Strengthening and making more frequent staff certification of compliance with DBI’s requirements, such as financial disclosure and conflict of interest forms, and staff training;
-Implementing technical changes to DBI’s Permit Tracking System (PTS) to reduce opportunities for fraud and manipulation;
-Requiring ongoing work and analysis with the Controller’s Office, and a third-party entity to analyze and recommend changes to existing penalties for non-compliant construction; and
-Requiring the creation of a Compliance team in DBI in collaboration with the Controller’s Office and a third-party entity to identify risks, and combat fraud and abuse in the permitting and inspection processes.
The mayor intends to work with all of the city departments involved in the permitting process to evaluate and advance additional ways to improve permitting and inspections functions for staff and applicants similar. Additional approaches include consideration of structural reforms to improve performance and accountability; the development of clear performance measures across the permitting process; and improved technology, including electronic plan review, to prevent abuse and increase transparency in permit processing.