A new state law aimed at curbing architects who knowingly self-certify incorrect plans has sparked a turf war between New York state and local officials in New York City over the administration of professional discipline.
New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) initiated self-certification in 1995 to help ease a permit backlog. The practice allows architects and engineers to confirm that their plans are compliant with applicable laws, rather than submit plans to DOB inspectors. It accounted for nearly half the 6,000 new building permits issued in 2006 and a similar number in 2007. Controversy erupted last summer when audits revealed that almost half of self-certified plans violated citywide building and zoning codes. In August, the state passed a law aimed at reigning in that misconduct by allowing the DOB to refuse self-certified plans from architects who have previously skirted the code. But the State Education Department, the body responsible for granting and rescinding professional licenses, is now crying foul.