Hoping to speed the city's recovery, the New Orleans City Council recently voted to extend the post-Katrina policy that suspends the requirement that city inspectors must approve electrical work at residential properties before the power is turned back on. Introduced last January by former Councilman Jay Batt, the ordinance came in response to complaints that a post-Katrina shortage of city inspectors was causing two-week delays. Under the suspension, the homeowner and electrician will need to download the official certification form from the city's Web site at http://secure.cityofno.com/Resources/Portal37/electrical_affidavit.pdf and submit the original with a copy of the Class “A” electrical license when all work is complete and the location is ready for power.

To further expedite reconstruction efforts, the city has also implemented an online permitting system. “There are a lot of people trying to get their homes back up, and they're not necessarily living in the city,” says Maury Blackman, senior VP of sales and marketing at licensing software company Accela, San Ramon, Calif. “They want to check on status, apply for permits, and do all that type of stuff. So being able to do it from a remote location is key.”

FastTrack Online Permitting allows homeowners and licensed contractors to submit applications for certain types of permits and licenses via the city's Web site at https://secure.cityofno.com/portal.aspx?portal=37&tabid=22.