San Francisco Struggles with Online Permit Tracking System

Though the city and vendors disagree on reasons for problems, a company executive says her team is focused on working with the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection so its portion of the project is a success.

by / December 1, 2015

San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection (DBI) is $3.2 million over budget and two years late on its new permit tracking system (PTS), the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Vendors Accela and 21 Tech won a $4.5 million contract in October 2011 to create a new system to handle 60,000 DBI permits annually and 2,000 annual projects filed through the City Planning Department.

According to the Chronicle, the city blames vendors for not committing to a firm finish date, while vendors blame the city for adjusting the parameters of the project after the initial contract was issued. The vendors say they are owed an additional $1.87 million for work performed to date, but city officials cite dissatisfaction with the project's current state.

At a Nov. 18 meeting with the Building Inspection Commission, charged with oversight of DBI, city staff said the project, originally expected to be complete in late 2013, should be halted while an outside consultant is hired to evaluate it.

"We are encouraged that San Francisco’s Department of Planning successfully went live with our technology last year," Lee Ann Slinkard, Accela senior vice president of professional services, told Government Technology via email. "And we are currently focused on working with the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection to see that their portion of the project is also a success.”