In D.C., Private Firms Approve Permit Applications
"The process was formalized in a 2002 law and continues to offer anyone who needs a permit a way around the still-dysfunctional and overworked DCRA. Developers pay for the private, city-blessed reviewer and cough up the standard municipal permitting fees when the District gives final approval to a project. Paying for a third-party review buys certainty for developers, who bleed green when projects are delayed.
...In recent years, development has boomed across the city, pushing up demand for permits and inspections. Without the third-party system, the DCRA would be even more overwhelmed than it already is.
...Even those who can afford third-party circumventions are perplexed by the DCRAâ€™s continuing dysfunction. Jim Abdo, president of Abdo Development, canâ€™t understand why the District doesnâ€™t devote more resourcesâ€"and ask bigger fees from fat catsâ€"to beef up the review staff."