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Program To Expedite D.C. Building Permits Facing IG Review Over Bribery, Fraud Concerns

The office building at 1100 4th St. SW where DCRA is based

A one-year-old D.C. program for fast-tracking building permit applications is coming under review amid concerns over potential corruption. 

The D.C. Office of the Inspector General will begin a review next year of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs-administered Velocity program, Curbed reports

The program allows developers to pay up to $75K to expedite building permit applications. The length of D.C.'s entitlement and permitting process has caused frustration among developers, especially with the growing risk of appeals that can set a project back months. 

Launched in September 2017, the program has processed over 100 permit applications and, as of August, generated over $2M in revenues for the District.

But residents and elected officials have voiced concerns that the program favors larger developers who can afford the extra fee and will further delay smaller projects. D.C. council members have also worried that the program is vulnerable to corruption, fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement. Accusations of bribery have been made in the past over people paying DCRA staffers to speed up the permitting process. 

The D.C. Council is also considering a bill to split the DCRA into two separate agencies to help it more efficiently process permit applications. Separately, one council member is looking to unmask individuals behind LLCs that own residential property to crack down on mismanagement.