Tuesday, April 04, 2006

IG audit of DCPS capital improvement plan

While most of the focus on DCPS's facilities issues is facing forward the DC Inspector General continues to audit the school system's past performance. In a newly released audit report the Office of the Inspector General takes a look at DCPS and the Army Corp of Engineers' performance on their work on the Barnard Elementary School. The results are a mixed bag.
Our specific audit objectives were to gain a general understanding of the CIP and to identify improvement opportunities for DCPS. We limited the scope of our review to the Barnard Elementary School Project. Our audit also included an evaluation of the current efforts and progress made by DCPS in its overall ability to manage future public school construction projects. Accordingly, we plan to conduct additional audits related to the CIP in future years.

CONCLUSIONS This report contains two findings that detail the conditions found during the audit. The first finding disclosed that USACE, while acting in its capacity as the contracting official for DCPS, did not fully comply with the intent of the Federal Acquisition Regulations by establishing definitive requirements prior to awarding the contract for the construction of the Barnard Elementary School project. USACE, in consultation with DCPS, awarded the construction contract even though the design concept was only 75 percent complete; as such, the award was made without obtaining the independent government estimated cost of construction based on a definitive and complete design requirement. USACE issued 77 contract modifications, valued at more than $3.5 million, to provide the contractor with the proper specifications to finish the project and to cover the cost of other building enhancements.

As a result, the Barnard Elementary School was not completed by the established deadline and the project experienced about a 20 percent cost growth, amounting to more than $3.5 million. This condition occurred primarily because of a need for improved acquisition planning on the part of DCPS and USACE.

The second finding addressed current efforts and progress made by DCPS in its overall capacity to manage public school capital projects. We found that DCPS has made recent organizational improvements that positively impact its ability to manage CIP projects in an effective and efficient manner. DCPS is improving its overall operations by simplifying its organizational structure in order to facilitate effective communication between managers and subject matter experts. DCPS is also in the process of drafting and implementing standard operating procedures that further clarify individual roles, duties, and responsibilities.

Finally, we noted that DCPS plans to hire additional personnel in specialized areas – such as a supervisory facility operations specialist, a supervisory construction analyst, and a supervisory general engineer -- to aid in the implementation of the CIP. In our opinion, the current efforts underway by DCPS are effective steps in the right direction and if continued, will aid DCPS in functioning in a more efficient and effective manner and reduce response time to public school facilities issues. Specifically, DCPS is making positive strides in building an infrastructure to handle school construction projects.
So, DCPS and the ACOE didn't do a very good job contracting out and controlling the Barnard Elementary School project, but at least DCPS is getting better at managing its facilities projects.

More in the Times.

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