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Mayor Unveils Business Regulatory Reform Task Force Report

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mayor Unveils Business Regulatory Reform Task Force Report

Report Recommends Significant Technological, Process, and Regulatory Changes to Make the District the Nation’s Most Business-Friendly City

(Washington, DC) Mayor Vincent C. Gray and members of the Business Regulatory Reform Task Force he appointed last year today unveiled the panel’s report, which includes 16 recommendations to improve the District’s business environment. The report is a follow-up to an executive summary provided to Mayor Gray in March.

When the task force was created in 2013, Mayor Gray charged the group with helping the District’s business community respond to a changing marketplace and evolving regulatory landscape. To ensure input across the business community, task force membership included representatives from several different economic-growth sectors, business organizations, and District agencies.

“I believe that the District can be the most business-friendly city in the country, and I created this task force to make that vision a reality, “said Mayor Gray. “I can promise you that this report will not just sit on a shelf; we’ve already begun to implement its recommendations. This report will help us create jobs and grow and diversify the District economy.”

One of the report’s most significant recommendations is the creation of a single-access Web portal, where businesses could access all government permitting, licensing and other services from one place—and do so remotely. Mayor Gray’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Budget would allocate $5,000,000 for the development of the site, to be called the One City Business Portal.

When complete, the One City Business Portal will allow users to access all business-related services from nine different District agencies: the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the Office of Tax and Revenue, the District Department of Transportation, Department of Small and Local Business Development, the Office of Contracting and Procurement, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, the Department of Health, Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and the District Department of the Environment.

During 2015, the District is expected to complete Phase I of the portal, which will allow users to access all DCRA-related business services from a single access and login point.

The co-chairs of the panel said implementing the One City Business Portal as well as the report’s other recommendations would be game-changers for improving the District’s economic environment.

“These recommendations will have a tremendous effect on job and business growth for the District, and they will offer tangible and practical steps for us to move to a more business-friendly environment,” said former DCRA Director Nicholas Majett, who served as a co-chair of the task force. “These recommendations are a model for other jurisdictions to follow.”

“As a representative of local business, I have been hoping to see a group like this convened for some time,” said Task Force Co-Chair David Goldblatt, a partner with the law firm Goldblatt Martin Pozen LLP. “The recommendations of this task force will make business easier to conduct in the District, bringing increased prosperity to all parts of our city. I thank and commend the Mayor for creating this task force.”

The panel’s other recommendations centered around improving administration, process and technology aids for businesses needing to access government services. They are:

  • Creating flow charts to map the process for obtaining business and licensing permits;
  • Launching an “Ambassador” program to help guide business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with particularly complex permitting and licensing needs through the process;
  • Establishing an advisory group to monitor and track proposed regulatory reforms and to identify their potential impact on businesses;
  • Requiring boards and commissions as well as government agencies who issue occupational, professional and business licenses to solicit public input from relevant industries through a public forum on how processes, rules and regulations can be streamlined;
  • Developing additional training for staff in licensing process and extending District-funded training to staff at non-profit organizations that assist District businesses;
  • Using best-practices research to conduct a review of the optimal number of business classifications to be used by DCRA;Increasing the number of DCRA staff assigned to review permits while concurrently increasing the requirements for technical proficiency in code interpretation;
  • Improving and expediting the construction-permitting process, eliminating any redundant reviews and time spent reviewing incomplete applications;
  • Using multiple communication strategies among DCRA, sister review agencies and permitting customers to ensure that applicants understand and are prepared to complete the permitting process;
  • Eliminating the building-permit requirement for submission of drawings on small business projects where there are no alterations affecting the structural, means of egress, mechanical, electrical and plumbing, accessibility, or fire safety;
  • Relocating the rental accommodations registration process from the Department of Housing and Community Development to DCRA and making the process available online or via self-certification;
  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the major reviewing agencies on construction projects — DCRA, the District Department of Transportation, the District Department of the Environment, the Office of Planning, and DC Water, along with the utilities — by examining their processes and implementing changes that will reduce permit review time while maintaining review quality;
  • Acquiring handheld field equipment and software to improve DCRA’s ability to review plans and reports on inspections, in real time, from the field;
  • Updating District agency rules and regulations with new language that applies universally to all agencies and reflects the realities of the competitive marketplace and makes efficient use of District resources; and
  • Conducting a thorough review of agency regulations; preparing a list of all current regulations; evaluating current regulations for effectiveness; updating existing regulations to reflect current needs while noting the need for any legislative changes; reviewing administrative interpretations; and reviewing all applications and documents associated with the regulations to ensure their consistency with the regulations.


The report also includes short- and long-term action items to help ensure that the recommendations in the report are implemented successfully.

“It’s a testament to the leadership of Mayor Gray and our business community that everyone was able to come together to produce wide-reaching, meaningful recommendations,” said DCRA Interim Director Rabbiah Sabbakhan. “I know that DCRA very much appreciates feedback from the task force that will us help continue to improve our service to customers.”

The task force members are:

 

Members

Name Company

Nicholas A. Majett

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs; Co-chair

David Goldblatt

Goldblatt Martin Pozen LLP; Co-chair

Charles Barber

George Washington University

Michael Thompson

Providence Hospital, DC

Veronica O. Davis

Nspire Green, LLC

Kathy Hollinger

Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington

Stephen Marcus

The Marcus Firm, PLLC

David Briggs

Holland and Knight Law Firm

Michael Howard

The Rappaport Companies

Rachel Holt

Uber, Inc.

Sam von Pollaro

Venga, Inc.

Mary L. Lynch

Akridge Real Estate

Karen Campbell

Verizon Washington, DC                                        

Margaret Singleton

DC Chamber of Commerce

Cheryl Hamilton

Adaoha Properties, LLC

Lloyd Jordan

MotleyWaller LLP

Marla Bionick

Latino Economic Development Center

Angela Franco

Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

 

Ex-Officio Members

Member Company

Reginald Bazile

District Department of Transportation

Fred Moosally

Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration

William Bowie

Office of Tax and Revenue

Robert Summers

Department of Small and Local Business Development

Steven Kelton

District Department of the Environment

Tanya Stern

District of Columbia Office of Planning

Patrick Holmes

Department of Employment Services

Melanie Bell

Office of the City Administrator

Jenifer Boss

Office of Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

 

Non-Voting Members

Member Company

Brian McDermott

District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority

Steve Atkinson

Pepco Holdings, Inc.

Adam Fine

Washington Gas

Donna Rattley-Washington

Comcast Cable

 

Functional Subgroups & Leaders

Subgroup Leader

Streamlining Business Licensing Processes

Charles Barber, Chair

Streamlining Construction Permitting Processes

Cheryl Hamilton, Chair

Legislative

Lloyd Jordan, Chair

Technology

Veronica O. Davis, Chair

 

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