CONNstruction - Summer 2012 - (Page 13)

newsandviews Time is Money: A Formula for Improving the State’s School Construction Process By John W. Butts Since 2007, the School Construction Coalition Executive has been working to improve the Connecticut school Director, AGC of building process by recommending measures that Connecticut would simplify state-approved processes and eliminate duplicative reviews that merely delay construction and increase project costs. The coalition is made up of a variety of individuals from organizations representing municipal officials, contractors, and design professionals, all of whom are involved in the school construction process. AGC of Connecticut, representing commercial building contractors, has been an integral part of the coalition since its inception. The coalition recently focused its efforts on providing recommendations to the new School Building Projects Advisory Council created in 2011. The council, which consists of state officials and gubernatorial appointees with knowledge and experience in school construction and design, is charged with, among other things, recommending improvements in school construction processes to the State Board of Education. The coalition has concentrated on three areas of the school building process that have become overly complicated and have created long delays in the completion of projects and uncertainties in total project costs: the Plan Completion Test, change orders, and the cost audit process. For each of these areas, the coalition has looked at Connecticut’s procedures as well as those of other states in identifying ways reduce unnecessary delays and protect the public investment in these valuable resources. A major time delay to the state’s approval process occurs at the Plan Completion Test stage where the school district and designers submit construction documents for review by the state Bureau of School Facilities (BSF) for compliance with the approved education specifications and subsequent grant request. The BSF has included in this review its own internal review for compliance with federal accessibility codes. By narrowing the focus of review to ensuring the project conforms to state-approved education specifications, the state would save time while maintaining the integrity of the design. This process would also help alleviate the backlog of review requests in place, allowing BSF to conduct more timely reviews and letting local code officials review the documents for all aspects of code compliance (including federal accessibility codes) as they do for any other local project. The change order process is another area ripe for improvement. A school district should be able to authorize change orders up to $10,000 without prior BSF approval and eligible or ineligible costs certified by the design professional and school district, subject to audit confirmation. BSF could continue to approve all change orders over $10,000, as it is presently required to do. BSF should be required to review and provide a written response to the school district within 45 days of receipt of a submitted change order. BSF also audits each school construction project to ensure that state funding procedures are being followed. However, the audit process has become a source of unnecessary delay which the coalition has targeted for suggested reform. First, the audit should begin within a year of the project completion and school districts should be allowed to outsource the audit process for projects over $5 million from a pre-approved list of auditors on the condition that the state reimburse the school district for the cost of the outsourced auditor. The state also needs to provide the standard audit checklist of procedures and required documents to the school district to use for audit compliance during the project to minimize cost eligibility challenges during the audit. And finally, the coalition recommends that the state accept for cost eligibility without audit challenge all change orders that have already been determined as eligible costs by BSF. Guided by the maxim that “time is money,” the coalition is convinced that these common-sense recommendations, taken as a whole or in parts, will save time without compromising the state’s fundamental role as guardian of the taxpayers’ money. CONNstruction / Summer 2012 / 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Summer 2012

Old School
Fiscal Challenges and Changes to School Construction Grant Process May Affect Contractors
Connecticut Apprenticeship Programs: On the Job Scholarship
Time is Money: A Formula for Improving the State’s School Construction Process
Spreading the Word: Terry Wooding, Chair of the AGC of America’s Building Division
A Conversation with Pasquale “Bud” Salemi
2012 Build CT Winners
Large Renovation – Greater than $20 Million: O&G Industries, Inc.
Small Renovation – Less than $5 Million: Petra Construction Corporation
Specialty Contracting – Concrete Award: Manafort Brothers, Inc.
Other Specialty Award: United Steel Inc.
Honorable Mention Specialty - Interiors Award: M. Frank Higgins & Co., Inc.
ConsensusDOCS Offer an Alternative to Perceived Standard Agreements ConsensusDOCS includes more than
2012 AGC of CT Build CT Awards & Dinner
CRBA Spring Dinner Meeting
CRMCA Annual Meeting
Index to Advertisers /

CONNstruction - Summer 2012