Capitol Visitor Center:

Results of Risk-based Analysis of Schedule and Cost

GAO-06-440T: Published: Feb 15, 2006. Publicly Released: Feb 15, 2006.

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GAO testified before the Senate Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, Committee on Appropriations to provide the results of a risk-based analysis of schedule and cost for the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC). Our remarks focused on (1) our assessment of the risks associated with the Architect of the Capitol's (AOC) December 2005 schedule, and our estimate of a time frame for opening the project to the public; and (2) the project's costs and funding, including the potential impact of scheduling issues that have arisen since the Subcommittee's November 16, 2005, hearing on the CVC project's schedule and cost.

Since the Subcommittee's November 16 CVC hearing, AOC and the CVC team have moved the project's construction forward and significantly revised the schedule, particularly for the base project. For example, they have reached agreement with AOC's Chief Fire Marshal on the schedule for testing the base project's life safety systems and have enhanced the manner in which the project's operations schedule is incorporated into the project's master schedule. In addition, they have reviewed and revised the schedule, postponing the opening dates for the CVC and the House and Senate expansion spaces by about 2 months each. Under AOC's revised schedule, the CVC would be open to the public in February 2007 with a temporary cap on visitor occupancy, and the expansion spaces would be open in April 2007. However, to allow for possible delays and start-up time for operations, AOC is proposing to open the CVC in April 2007 and the expansion spaces in May 2007, at which time the temporary cap on CVC occupancy would be lifted. We concur with AOC about the need for postponing the opening dates, but do not believe that AOC has scheduled enough time to complete several of the project's critical tasks and to address the problems, challenges, risks, and uncertainties that AOC and the CVC team are attempting to address. If they are successful in addressing these issues, we believe that the CVC can be opened to the public with the temporary cap on visitor occupancy in May 2007 and that the expansion spaces can be opened beginning in mid-August to early September 2007. Congress may be able to begin occupying the expansion spaces earlier if AOC implements a phased opening plan it is considering. However, if AOC experiences major problems completing construction, such as with installing interior stone or testing major building systems, the work could be finished even later than we have estimated. According to our current estimate, the total estimated cost to complete the entire CVC project is about $555 million without an allowance for risks and uncertainties. This estimate exceeds our November 16, 2005, estimate by about $12 million because we and AOC's construction management contractor are now projecting further delay-related costs. Changes in the project's design and scope have also been occurring, and more are likely. For example, the project's fire protection system has been evolving, and the system is now expected to cost more than previously estimated. To date, about $528 million has been provided for CVC construction. Thus, we now estimate that another $25.6 million will be needed to complete construction without an allowance for risks and uncertainties and taking into account funding from existing appropriations that AOC is planning to use. With an allowance for risks and uncertainties, we now estimate that the project could cost as much as about $584 million at completion, or about $25 million more than we estimated in November 2005. Estimated costs for the tunnel connecting the CVC with the Library of Congress are still within, but are now approaching, the $10 million statutorily mandated limit.

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