Code of the District of Columbia

§ 1–1505.02. Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1982

(Effective December 8, 1982)


I. Establishment There is established within the District of Columbia Department of Transportation the Office of the Surveyor, headed by the Surveyor, who shall perform the functions herein transferred or otherwise assigned. The Office of the Surveyor shall operate under the administrative direction of the Director and shall constitute an organizational unit of the Department of Transportation.

II. Purpose The Office of the Surveyor is established to provide a legal office of record for the plats and subdivisions of all private property in the District of Columbia and all property belonging to the District of Columbia, with responsibility for the preservation of the records pertaining thereto and to perform such other functions as may be authorized or required by law or regulation or administrative direction. The Office of the Surveyor is further charged to conduct surveys and provide certified plats to any court, individual or firm as well as District or Federal agencies as may be ordered.

III. Organization The Director of the Department of Transportation is authorized to establish such organizational components within the Office of the Surveyor, and to place such office within any organizational division of the Department, as he deems appropriate.

IV. Functions The functions of the Office of the Surveyor contained in the following statutes, regulations and orders are hereby transferred:

1. The Act of March 2, 1893 (D.C. Code 1981 Ed., sec. 7-108 [9-103.02]), including but not limited to:

Filing and recording the permanent highway plan and amendments thereto.

2. The Act of March 3, 1901 (D.C. Code 1981 Ed., sec. 1-901 [1-1301] et seq.; former sec. 7-313) including but not limited to the following:

Keeping and preserving all maps, charts, surveys, books, records and papers relating to the land records of the District of Columbia.

Executing surveys for the District of Columbia and any order of survey made by any court or private individual, including the preparation of a true plat and certificate thereof.

Preparing necessary data and plats for subdivisions of property.

Preparing plats for use in condemnation of streets and alleys.

3. The Act of June 21, 1906 as amended (D.C. Code 1981 Ed., sec. 5-202 [6-402]), including but not limited to:

Preparing plats for use in condemnation proceedings concerning establishment of building lines.

4. The Act of January 30, 1925 (D.C. Code 1981 Ed., former sec. 7-124), including but not limited to:

Preparing street closing plats and recording of same.

5. The Act of December 15, 1932 (D.C. Code 1981 Ed., sec. 7-404 [9-202.12]), including but not limited to:

Recording of street and alley closing plats following the proceedings for their closings.

6. The Act of March 29, 1977 (D.C. Code 1981 Ed., sec. 45-1824 [42-1902.14]), including but not limited to:

Ascertaining the certification required by D.C. Code sec. 45-1824 [42-1902.14] prior to acceptance of condominium plats for recordation.

7. The Act of March 3, 1979 (D.C. Code 1981 Ed., sec. 1-929 [1-1329]), including but not limited to:

Establishing and enforcing standards and operating procedures for the performance of surveys by registered land surveyors who shall have been approved and permitted by the Office of the Surveyor to prepare and certify surveys and subdivision plats.

8. Commissioner's Order No. 67-651a, dated March 16, 1967, to wit:

Preparing all plats of subdivisions.

9. Furnishing information to the general public, and initiating and developing policies for consideration by the Mayor and the Council concerning the relationship between the Office of the Surveyor and the general public, Federal agencies, and other District Government agencies.

V. Transfer of Functions, Funds and Other Resources There is hereby transferred to the Office of the Surveyor within the Department of Transportation all duties and functions assigned or delegated to the existing Office of the Surveyor as of the date immediately prior to the effective date of this Reorganization Plan. All positions, personnel, property, records, and expended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other funds available or to be made available relating to the above functions are hereby transferred to such Office of the Surveyor within the Department of Transportation.

VI. Effective Date The provisions of this Plan shall become effective pursuant to the requirements of Section 422(12) of Public Law 93-198, but no earlier than October 1, 1982.

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., Title 1, Chapter 15, Subchapter V, Part B.

Mayor's Statement

The District of Columbia Office of the Surveyor was established by Act of Congress in 1901. The records and plats contained in the Office predate this by a century or more. Among its present responsibilities are:

(1) To maintain the legal records of all plats and subdivisions of private and District Government property within the District,

(2) To carry out surveys,

(3) To verify that all building on private property conforms with established boundaries,

(4) To accept and coordinate applications for closing streets and alleys, and

(5) To receive and record plats of condominiums.

In recent years, builders and developers in the District as well as private homeowners have increasingly encountered delays in receiving services from this Office. My Transition Team initially reported to me on these problems; the Office of the City Administrator subsequently analyzed their causes, including understaffing, an out-of-date fee structure, an out-of-date records management system, the absence of a plane coordinate system in the District, and complexities involved in implementing D.C. Law 2-149 which allows registered private surveyors to certify privately prepared plats and surveys for permit purposes. Based on those findings, we initiated some immediate changes, such as reclassification of some positions and the expansion of the Surveyor's staff by 4 positions to provide an additional field party. Further improvements, however, depend on more fundamental organizational and operational changes.

The work of the Surveyor is a key ingredient in several regulatory functions of the District Government: building permits and inspections, public space use permits, transfers of real estate title and applications to open or close streets and alleys.

During 1981, the Office of the City Administrator and all the agencies related to regulatory functions, including the Office of the Surveyor, carried out an intensive analysis of these operations. Many administrative and personnel changes within individual offices are now under way to resolve widespread problems of backlogs and outdated procedures. A major reorganization plan to consolidate most regulatory functions in a single agency was drafted, and informally shared with Council members and private sector representatives. The reaction has been generally favorable, and steps toward that reorganization continued. However, we have on further examination concluded that because of the technical and engineering nature of the operations of the Office of the Surveyor it would be more appropriate to combine it with the Department of Transportation.

The Department of Transportation, within its Bureau of Design, Engineering and Research, has responsibility for the preparation of plans and specifications for construction and alteration of highway and bridge systems, for maintaining maps and records of proposed and approved grades, street widths and permanent street improvements, and for coordinating and maintaining maps of the location or relocation of underground utility or private installations in public space. To carry out these responsibilities, it directs field surveys, establishes grades, and maintains maps and records similar to those of the Surveyor. This Bureau also makes recommendations for approval or disapproval of proposed dedications and street and alley closings, and for approval or disapproval of applications for surface and subsurface space permits; these functions are also closely allied to functions of the Surveyor.

Both offices engage in surveying, perform geometric calculations, draw plats or plans, and make use of similar equipment. Because of these common technical elements and processes, the benefits of consolidation with a professional engineering office outweigh the benefits of consolidation with other regulatory functions. Exhibit A of the attached proposal details further the benefits to be derived from this reorganization.

This proposed consolidation of the Office of the Surveyor with the Department of Transportation will not alter the authorized functions of the Surveyor nor does it represent any change in present budget or policy priorities established in FY '82.

The reorganization will, however, provide an improved professional and organizational environment, more efficient utilization of resources, and a framework for further management improvements.