The Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting launched a new website on Wednesday, intended to improve its permitting process that has received complaints from homeowners and construction industry professionals for being too slow.

The revamp comes as the department is under scrutiny following a bribery scandal, high turnover, understaffing and constant backlogs.

The new website contains a “permitting process improvements” tab that informs people about recent changes in permitting, checklists, references and forms. The website also explains how to meet the prescreening phase and includes 11 checklist items.

The department also created a so-called automated computer bot tasked with reviewing a backlog of some 3,500 cases, although it won’t be fully working until January. The bot will be responsible for reviewing four of the 11 checklist items as part of the prescreening phase of the permit application process.

Starting Monday, permit applicants will be notified via email if their building plans failed to meet the required checklist items.

“The new DPP website serves as an important platform to more readily inform and service the public as we continue to modernize and streamline processes,” DPP Acting Director Dawn Takeuchi Apuna said in a news release. “I am thankful and proud of our staff who developed the new website in-house, continue to program and develop the bot, and are dedicated to improving our service to the public.”

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