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Status Indicator: In Progress | On Hold | Complete/Ongoing

Initiative: 4.33 Enhance interdepartmental collaboration in the development review process

Innovative & High Performing Organization


This initiative has been created to enhance coordination and collaboration on development review related matters. It will be focused on improving available guidance on when collaboration pertaining to the development process should be happening, how it should be happening, and who will coordinate the collaboration.  It will also assist in formalizing a process for escalating development process related issues if collaboration is not resulting in solutions in a timely manner. 

Key Measures & Data Analysis

Given the steady volume of development activity occurring in Durham, and the variety of potentially applicable regulations, the development review process can be confusing for some customers.  For example, while the Planning Department manages development plans/ site plans, and the Inspections Department manages building permits, multiple departments often participate in the overall development plan review, permitting, and inspections processes. This necessitates effective communication and collaboration to ensure compliance with various codes and policies. Coordination is also crucial for providing efficient, timely customer service.

The Development Administrator will serve as a centralized resource for customers who are unsure about which department can assist them with their project, or if multiple departments need to be involved in a resolution. In collaboration with the Development Management Team (DMT), the Development Administrator will address development process challenges as necessary, in a collaborative and timely manner. 

Development cases/permits processed

Why is it important?

Citizens, developers, design professionals, and city staff will benefit from this initiative because the paths to communication and collaboration as they pertain to the  development process will be enhanced by creating greater transparency and more predictability. 

What have we been doing?

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a building and development ombuds program was drafted and circulated for review by development review departments.  The MOU specifies that the Ombuds Program is being established to monitor and facilitate resolution of technical and operational issues related to the development process, to that projects can be completed in a code compliant and timely manner.  It also specifies that there will be a project advocate (formal title: Development Administrator) responsible for the centralized management of development related communication and coordination, as well as facilitating resolution of technical and/or operational issues brought forward concerning development projects under review or construction.  The MOU also specifies roles and responsibilities of partner work groups.  The MOU was vetted with the partner work groups, and has been signed by all applicable department heads, as well as the City Manager's Office.

This sets the stage for effective implementation of this initiative.

What's next?

Hire the Development Administrator and formalize the Ombuds Program.  The Ombuds Program will solidify the communication and coordination procedures for development matters.

Budget and Management Services Department
Office of Performance and Innovation
Strategy and Performance Division