Delays in Developing and Implementing the District of Columbia Government's Elements of a Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital

GGD-80-18: Published: Feb 12, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 12, 1980.

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The comprehensive plan for the National Capital will guide the District of Columbia's future development including land use, housing, transportation, health, social services, and the environment. The proposed completion date for the plan was originally set for September 1978 but has been extended to late 1980 because of delays. Before Home Rule, the National Planning Commission was responsible for development of such a plan. That group proposed a plan in 1967 but, as of 1974, only 4 of 19 plan elements had been adopted because of executive work sessions which overburdened Commission members and Commission staff working on other matters. Under Home Rule, the Mayor of the District of Columbia was made responsible for coordinating planning activities and preparing and implementing the District's elements of a new comprehensive plan.

The District has experienced delays in developing its comprehensive plan elements. According to District officials, the development steps were time-consuming and caused the delays. Timely development was impeded also by: (1) other duties and responsibilities of the office; (2) planning process complexities set out in the Home Rule Act; and (3) the lack of adequate staff. GAO felt that the District should establish and monitor formal completion timetables and determine definitively the number of elements to be included in the plan. The District and the National Planning Commission differ on the timing of the Commission's review of plan elements. Because of this, the goals and policies element approved by the District in October 1978 had not yet been implemented. The disagreement has not been resolved and could delay implementation of other plan elements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should establish and monitor a realistic schedule for completing the District's comprehensive plan elements. This schedule should: (1) include appropriate benchmarks; and (2) review timeframes for each phase of the plan's development.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should give top priority to implementing the goals and policies and land use elements.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Mayor of the District of Columbia should work with the National Capital Planning Commission and the Council to reach agreement on the timing of the Commission's review of plan elements.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

 

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