Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beaufort County, SC takes its time


"...County Administrator Gary Kubic brought in IAS in late 2007 to review the building department after news surfaced several months earlier that trusses...were defective. The trusses weren't fastened together securely enough with metal plates and nails or they had too few wooden cross beams to provide adequate bracing. Such defects could have allowed the roofs to fly off in extreme winds, experts said.

Some of the problems that IAS turned up in Beaufort County's building department were house-keeping matters, but others were substantive. For example:

• Two of the three employees who inspect plans for homes lack the proper certification.
• The building department does not have a schedule for appraising its employees, nor do appraisals include performance goals.
• There are no policies and procedures specifying how new employees are trained, nor is training documented.
• Although employees sign statements saying that they are aware of the county's conflict-of-interest regulations, "there is no evidence that department employees have received training" on conflict of interest issues.
• Audits to determine whether the building department is adhering to policies and procedures are not conducted.

IAS reviewers interviewed employees and supervisors in the building department and also spent time with them in the field, Archer said. Contractors and homebuilders were interviewed to get their impressions of the building department. The evaluation is expected to cost the county about $15,000, county officials said.

"Our program is very thorough," Archer said. Evaluating a building department typically takes 9 to 14 months, but in Beaufort County's case it's expected to take more than two years.

One reason it took so long is that the building department spent nine months gathering some of the data IAS requested. "

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