New Director And New Permit Center Mark New Era For DCRA
Among the major priorities of Mayor Adrian Fenty is the reform and rebuilding of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). The agency has a broad mandate, with primary responsibility for the permitting, inspection and licensing functions of government. DCRA’s reach extends from individual homeowners to small business owners to the largest developers in the District of Columbia. So it was with much anticipation last week that Mayor Fenty nominated Linda K. Argo to be the new Director of DCRA. Previously the deputy director of DCRA, she has been responsible for the agency’s notable public service enhancements. Chief among these improvements was the opening of DCRA’s newly redesigned Permit Center, which was unveiled by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on June 18.
The new Permit Center is the first of many planned improvements to serving customers and creating a more responsive public agency. The permitting center represents a new start and a dramatic change from the previous facility. Planned with the real flow of the permit process as its foundation, it has a circular, ergonomic design and a new, more intuitive signage system make it easier to identify each aspect of the permitting process. Customers with basic permit requests now can move easily from station-to-station as they meet with plan review coordinators and zoning, structural, electrical and mechanical engineers. Mayor Fenty conducted a trial walk-through of the Permit Center at the kick-off event, testing the knowledge and efficiency of the employees.
“I believe we are making significant strides to improving DCRA’s operations,” said Mayor Fenty. “This new Permit Center is a tangible step in making sure that the system works well and that customers are well served and satisfied.”
During her tenure as Deputy Director of DCRA, Ms. Argo successfully established the agency’s Office of Communications and Customer Service (OCCS), which is radically overhauling the way DCRA delivers information and services to the public. Her office has assumed responsibility for regularly communicating with civic groups and advisory neighborhood commissioners (ANC), coordinating complex multi-agency inspections actions, providing up-to-date information and increasing the number of services on the web and meeting regularly with business and industry partners.
“Permitting is one of the functions that bring District residents and businesses most in contact with DCRA,” said Ms. Argo. “We realized there were challenges and frustrations in the past and have put a priority in making permitting in the District a process that is as clear and simple as possible. This Permit Center will define DCRA’s expectations for providing world class customer service in all of its operations moving forward.”
Under Ms. Argo’s leadership, DCRA recently completed intensive cross-training of the Permit Center’s staff in customer-service solutions. She also has been responsible for a major initiative to enhance Internet, phone and face-to-face service delivery, and is implementing a comprehensive overhaul of DCRA’s telephone center. The new Permit Center is located on the second floor of 941 North Capitol Street, NE. More information on the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the new Permit Center is available at dcra.dc.gov.