Philadelphia, September 25, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter received the report, Safety First and Foremost, from the Special Independent Advisory Commission established to review and evaluate the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I). The report includes 37 recommendations for the Department, ranging from organizational to staffing and technology changes.
In addition, Mayor Nutter announced the creation of the L&I Implementation and Accountability Committee, which will convene on October 15th and will report on December 31st, to oversee potential organizational and statutory changes to the Department based on the Commission’s major recommendations. Mayor Nutter also announced that he will shift L&I under the organizational oversight of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and created a new position related to L&I called the Chief Safety Officer, whose duties will be to develop safety plans and to enforce the Department’s safety standards and regulations related to construction and demolition.
“I thank the members of the Commission for working quickly and diligently to complete this report,” said Mayor Nutter. “As the title of the report indicates, safety must always be our first and foremost concern. In that spirit, I have decided that it makes administrative and strategic sense to move L&I, an agency whose central task is ensuring public safety, under the portfolio of the Office of Public Safety. I’m also creating a new position related to L&I called the Chief Safety Officer, who will report directly to the Deputy Mayor and will actively participate in the implementation process of the Special Commission’s recommendations. Additionally, our Administration looks forward to evaluating those recommendations offered in the report in great detail – and to ensure that this process is done smartly, I am implementing one of the Commission recommendations right now: I am forming the L&I Implementation and Accountability Committee to assess each recommendation by posing the question: ‘is this change the best way to increase public safety?’, because that is the ultimate goal of these recommendations.”
The report includes three major proposals which would involve significant and complex changes to government operations: separating L&I into two new departments, a Department of Buildings and a Department of Business Compliance; enhancing L&I by doubling the number of inspectors; and transferring the responsibility for building fire safety inspections to the Fire Department.
“Today, the Mayor’s Special Independent Advisory Commission calls for a break from the past and a bold step forward for building safety in the City of Philadelphia,” said Glenn Corbett, Chairman of the Commission. “As it stands today, L&I is burdened with an ever-increasing set of responsibilities, many of which have nothing to do with building safety. In the wake of the tragedy at 22nd and Market Streets, our Commission is calling for the creation of a new Department of Buildings led by a licensed engineer or registered architect. Building safety must be job one in the new department. We believe that our set of over 30 recommendations will help guide the City of Philadelphia in carrying out its’ fundamental public safety role.”
The Commission report also noted and endorsed many of the reforms that L&I has either implemented or is currently working on which were initiated by City Council ordinance or Mayoral Executive Order. Some of those recommendations include full implementation and staffing of the Project eCLIPSE information system, building demolition safety legislation, and creation of a vacant property task force within L&I.