DPP ‘Audit’ of Third Party Reviewers a Sham
Dear Editor, May 10, 2022
The recent DPP ‘audit’ of Third Party Reviewers was nothing more than a press release from the present administration attacking the Third Party Review companies. And one that was not exactly factually correct.
It was not an independent audit. This was the fox watching the hen house. In whose best interest was it that the plan reviewers of the city checked the TPR plans? I know several of the people who drew the plans that were audited. The comments that they got back in many cases were minor. The City went in search of the answers they wanted. After 35 plus years or experience, I can tell you there is no such thing as a perfect set of plans. If you look hard enough, you will always find a discrepancy or two. Don’t find it strange that DPP can’t say if there is any public safety hazard? If you do an audit, you should have that answer. A proper investigation would have been to hire an outside company to do a proper audit of BOTH TPR plans and the City’s reviewed plans. It would be interesting to see how the two might compare.
The history of TPR process is a result of the City’s lack of efficiency in the first place. The need for these services grew from their inability to process plans in any reasonable time frame. The TPR process was the City’s answer to their own problems. I find it disturbing now that the City plan reviewers who are already months behind, found time to review all these plans. Not only has the Administration bottled up the TPR companies, but they have also done the same to their own building department reviewers. There is the real story!
Past administrations have slowly gutted the plan review section of the DPP. Highly qualified people have left without replacements. Despite being one of the few departments that generates real income for the city, many of their key employees are underpaid. A couple decades ago there were quite a few DPP staffers who really knew the building codes and would actually sit down with you to resolve building issues. It’s time for full staffing, better training, and proper compensation. They should be paid like architects and engineers if they are going to review architects and engineers, or we will continue to lose them.
The Administration is looking for a scapegoat, but in this case, they should not be throwing stones. After the recent arrests of City employees on bribery charges, perhaps deflecting some blame? Or maybe the present administration is just looking to outsource the whole process? I think it would have been much better if Hawai’i Free Press had gotten some feedback from the TPR companies and others in the design community before publishing the City’s press release.
My grandfather used to tell me that the figures don’t lie, but liars always figure. You really need to look at the data and who produces it. One of the things a free press should do is ask these questions.
Patrick W. Mori, Architect