Director of the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), Melinda Bolling, who held the position since July 2015, will be replaced on an interim basis by Ernest Chrappah, the present head of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles.
The leadership change was recently announced by DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner at a DCRA staff meeting.
“Mr. Chrappah brings to this role his years of experience as a government executive as well as a successful entrepreneur with a reputation for finding innovative solutions to complex challenges,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration in a statement.
DCRA has a broad mandate. The agency handles business licensing and also building permitting and enforcement. In 2017, DCRA issued over 63,000 building permits. More than 15,000 inspections of construction sites were also conducted by the agency.
DCRA also faced issues as residents complained of its slow response while dealing with complaints of illegal constructions and vacant properties. The builders also said that they faced hassles with the agency which was expensive when it came to issuing buildings permits.
Bolling was credited for making some progress to reform DCRA, but some issues still remain, according to the critics of the agency.
“The grade I would give her would be a C-minus. Overall, there’s still enormous problems with the agency—its lack of professionalism, its lack of responsiveness. That said, it’s less atrocious today than it was three years ago. They have managed to crawl a little ways up the hill,” said Mark Eckenweiler, Ward 6 ANC commissioner who frequently testified to the Council on issues facing DCRA.
On steps taken to reform the agency by Bowser and Bolling, Eckenweiler termed it as “little bit of lipstick on the pig.” “The long-term structural problems within the agency have not been resolved,” he said. “This is tinkering at the edges.”
Following her re-election, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser at a press conference said that she was looking at every part of her administration to see where things can change and where there’s need for new leadership.
“We are going into a fresh four years, and we regard that as an opportunity to do things better, do things faster, or to do things bigger,” said Bowser. “We haven’t tried everything. We haven’t thought of everything. And we would be entirely arrogant if we had thought we had.”