Philadelphia Controller’s Office Criticizes Building Inspections

September 22, 2015

An agency under fire since a 2013 building collapse killed six people jeopardizes public safety by allowing uncertified workers to conduct building inspections, Philadelphia city auditors said.

The two building inspectors who weren’t properly certified performed 1,900 inspections, the Philadelphia controller’s office said. The Department of Licenses and Inspections also doesn’t effectively monitor inspector overtime and uses a computer system that allows data to be altered without a trace, the auditors found, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The controller’s report states that what began as a simple audit became a “special investigation” following pushback from inspections officials. The controller’s office said the department put up such a “huge resistance” that auditors were forced to subpoena documents that were requested but not provided.

Department of Licenses and Inspections officials declined to comment.

The deadly June 2013 demolition accident and building collapse brought swift and mounting fallout in a city where demolition contractors had been lightly regulated.

The city had received calls beforehand with concerns about the demolition, but an inspector found nothing amiss.

He later committed suicide.

Mayor Michael Nutter formed an oversight board in January to shepherd three dozen recommendations his advisory commission offered last year. They include requiring background investigations for demolition companies, the creation of new demolition site safety positions and resolving reports of potentially unsafe conditions with a site visit by a qualified inspector.

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