Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Finding a way through the red tape

Over the past six months, I have been working on getting Adin Circle accepted by Augusta County and the Virginia Department of Transportation. Adin Circle is a residential street within Silver Ridge Subdivision. This road was constructed four years ago, but is only now being accepted into the road system.

Here are my lessons learned:

1. Get a very clear understanding of what the government wants before you start. Know who the players are and what their role is in the process.

2. Find out what all the fees are. You would be surprised how many secret fees pop up during any acceptance process.

3. Determine the payout and release of any surity bonds. With bonds, you can set them up a number of ways. For small bonds, it is often best to post a Certificate of Deposit with an escrow agent (attorney or bank). This way, you are getting the little bit of interest on the money.

4. When you get comments back from the agency, be sure the information is in writing. Never go on the verbal comments of a government employee. These people like paper and if it isn't on paper, it didn't happen.

5. If you are working with an engineer, surveyor or contractor through the acceptance process, be sure to specify that you are hiring them to get acceptance by an agency. Then get a price for them to reach that acceptance. Paying by the hour will kill your budget since you will never get it right on the first step.

6. Unlike the real world, working with government agencies is seldom negotiable. The rules are the rules. Don't look to get any breaks. Treat the entire process as professionally as possible. Remember the government employees really don't care about your timeline or budget. All they are interested in is being sure they do their job by the book. Keep that in mind and your frustration level will drop considerably.

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