Frustrating things about being a permit tech....

Emily C

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What are some of the most frustrating things about being a permit tech?
I'll go first.
I'll preface it by saying that my team is great...communication is, for the most part, awesome.
My current issue is when one or two departments are ready to issue, and I'm waiting on the last to sign off with a condition of approval/note on the plans about potential flooding.
Meanwhile, the applicant is calling me, stopping in...and all I can tell them is, "tomorrow, tomorrow."
I finally got a "promise" from said department that it really will be ready to issue tomorrow.

What would you recommend for keeping this from happening in the future?
Tell me some of your frustrations!
 
Location
Washington State, United States
What are some of the most frustrating things about being a permit tech?
I'll go first.
I'll preface it by saying that my team is great...communication is, for the most part, awesome.
My current issue is when one or two departments are ready to issue, and I'm waiting on the last to sign off with a condition of approval/note on the plans about potential flooding.
Meanwhile, the applicant is calling me, stopping in...and all I can tell them is, "tomorrow, tomorrow."
I finally got a "promise" from said department that it really will be ready to issue tomorrow.

What would you recommend for keeping this from happening in the future?
Tell me some of your frustrations!


I don't know what your jurisdiction policy is, but if it's a reoccurring problem and you have 'due dates' that aren't being met, I would have the applicant speak directly with the reviewer. I get that it slows them down taking calls, etc. but it's human nature accountability kicks in when you speak directly with someone instead of someone blocking it for you. If there are 'due dates' that aren't being met, sounds like a supervisor, manager, etc. needs to become aware/involved.
 
What would you recommend for keeping this from happening in the future?

I'm in a similar position all the time as a Corps regulator. Consultants call, email, leave voicemails, etc., wanting to know when they can expect the permit to finally be issued. Generally, the exact timeline is out of my control and I end up talking about my latest correspondence with the person/agency I'm waiting to get approval from. I'll say stuff like "well I heard from USFWS last week so I know it's on their radar...I know they're backlogged right now...hopefully they'll be able to wrap things up soon..." More aspirational than helpful, right? It's definitely frustrating for everyone involved.

My best advice for managing these situations is "underpromise, overdeliver"...ever hear of that? Basically, you want to do your best to set reasonable expectations, perhaps even erring on the side of worst case scenario in terms of the anticipated permitting timeline. The idea is that you want to get better at beating the expectations you set rather than continually failing to meet them. It's one of those things that's easier said than done, but can lead to a lot less frustration if done effectively.
 

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