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Audit Highlights Struggles in Bureau of Building Inspection

Slow progress, software glitches, and outdated property ownership information are just some of the problems that the Bureau of Building Inspection is grappling with, according to an audit released by Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb.

Lamb said that the bureau is doing better since the previous audit in 2008.

"They're making progress on the technological front, they're making progress in their ability to deal with complaints, but frankly by this point we thought they would have gotten a lot further than they are," said Lamb. "When we were there last time we raised a lot of issues, made a lot of recommendations on moving forward, particularly with respect to technology. And we would have thought that by this point, a lot of that would have been put in place."

The Bureau of Building Inspection is upgrading its functions through software, which will allow them to interface with other departments, such as Public Works, and provide online permitting for small projects.

He said that the city has a code enforcement crisis because the bureau has hired too few inspectors.

"We've got problems. Walk through some of our neighborhoods and see the code enforcement issues," said Lamb. "While we do get a lot of complaints about high weeds, we're not just talking about high weeds, we're talking about matters of public safety."

Lamb noted that many of the vehicles that the city purchased for the bureau are sitting idle in a lot in the Strip District. He said that since there are more vehicles than inspectors, the extra cars should be allocated to the city's motor pool rather than go unused.