Nearly Every Elevator on Campus Operating with Expired Certificate of Inspection


People in Washington walk near the campus of The Catholic University of America Nov. 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Courtesy of The National Catholic Reporter

By Felipe D. Avila

Nearly every elevator on campus has an expired inspection certificate. This comes after an extensive investigation into the status of the university’s elevator licenses. These findings expose gaps in the university’s ability to maintain up-to-date documentation on safety-related procedures. 

The District of Columbia began requiring posted certificates of inspection in 1982 to promote public transparency surrounding elevator safety and compliance. Recent problems with elevators in the city have renewed calls for increased safety measures. In 2020, the City Council established the Department of Buildings (DOB) to oversee elevator inspections and compliance.

DCMR Title 12A, Section 3010.4.1, states that a copy of the most current certificate of inspection “shall be conspicuously displayed at all times within the elevator car or attached to the conveying system unless exempted pursuant to Section 3010.6.” 

“The certificate of inspection, for each elevator and conveying system, must be renewed every 24 months,” the code further states.

Building operators who fail to post their most up-to-date certificate may face consequences, including fines, permit suspensions, legal action, and insurance claims. 

Staffing shortages in Washington, D.C. have contributed to delays in elevator inspections. An investigative report from WUSA9 in 2018 uncovered staffing shortages in the city’s regulatory body, revealing gaps in its ability to inspect elevators. The article notes that in 2018, the agency only had “three inspectors for the city’s 20,000 elevators.” 

While city lawmakers have made significant strides to address these shortcomings, questions remain. Students are left to speculate on whether the outdated elevator inspections are due to administrative negligence or a lack of regulatory oversight.

The following buildings have expired certificates of inspection:

Garvey Hall and Millenium South were up-to-date with their elevator licenses. 

Catholic University Architect Debra Nauta-Rodriguez said, “The elevator inspections were formerly scheduled by work orders in our system in March 2023 and took place over the period May 30-June 15, 2023.” 

Nauta-Rodriguez shared an email exchange between herself and a third-party service contractor employed by the university to show the completion of  inspections. 

“There were minor infractions reported on 5 elevators, which were corrected and re-inspected,” Nauta-Rodriguez said.

Nauta-Rodriguez believes paperwork issues have delayed the university from receiving new inspection certificates. 

“It appears to me that there is a backlog somewhere in the process between the inspectors and the city and we are waiting for the paperwork to catch up,” Nauta-Rodriguez said.

SGA Senator Correy Crawford, who directed the Disability Support Services Executive Initiative last year, said, “I have been made aware of the issue with our elevators and I hope to work with Campus Facilities to have our elevators fully inspected and recertified. It seems this year we have seen an abundance of elevator outages. Mill North, Gowan, Bush School Pryz, and many more.” 

Catholic University President Peter Kilpatrick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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