Conventional Design and Construction Methods Are More Applicable for Capitol Hill Construction Projects

PLRD-82-1: Published: Oct 30, 1981. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 1981.

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A review was undertaken of the overall construction activities of the Architect of the Capitol. Specifically, GAO presented its evaluation of the Architect's construction activities, including: (1) updating the information in its past studies of the Hart, Madison, and House Annex No. 2 projects; (2) identifying the underlying causes for the Architect's problems; and (3) informing Congress of changes needed to help minimize or avoid the pitfalls that have plagued previous Capitol Hill projects.

In its review, GAO found that, over the past 12 years, each of the Architect of the Capitol's four major construction projects has experienced significant cost overruns, completion delays, and management problems. GAO believes that many of the problems the Architect has encountered are a result of phased construction methods. Under the phased construction method, construction is begun on some segments of a project while others are still being designed. Specifically, GAO believes that phasing is not compatible with Capitol Hill projects because of the: (1) myriad number of reviews and approvals required throughout the planning, design, and construction cycles; (2) funding problems that often prevent the prompt and timely award of multiple construction contracts; (3) complexity of design and quality of construction required on monumental buildings; and (4) likelihood of numerous design changes throughout a project's design and construction cycle. GAO also found that the Architect: (1) does not have adequate systems for controlling time and cost on major construction projects; (2) has increased the time and cost incurred by the associate architects commissioned to work on Capitol Hill projects by not developing standard policies and procedures; (3) has difficulty verifying that materials were delivered to and used on a particular project site; and (4) will probably be unable to recruit and retain the necessary in-house work forces that are needed to effectively and efficiently restore two Library buildings.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GAO will not be able to determine whether AOC effectively implements this recommendation until another building is built on Capitol Hill, which could be 15 to 20 years. Although this recommendation is still valid and action has been initiated, action cannot be verified until the next project. Therefore, this recommendation should be considered at a later date.

    Recommendation: The Architect of the Capitol should try more conventional planning, design, and construction methods for major projects to minimize or alleviate some of the problems that have plagued Capitol Hill projects designed and constructed using the phasing process.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GAO will not be able to determine whether the AOC effectively implements this recommendation until another building is built on Capitol Hill, which could be 15 to 20 years. Although this recommendation is still valid and action has been initiated, action cannot be verified until the next project. Therefore, this recommendation should be considered at a later date.

    Recommendation: The Architect of the Capitol should: (1) develop standard policies and procedures for associate architects regarding general design criteria, performance standards, and general operating procedures; (2) improve inventory controls over construction materials to ensure that the materials are properly used; (3) thoroughly study the types of workers, in-house, contracted-out, or some combination thereof, that will be best suited to effectively and efficiently carry out the restoration of the Library buildings; and (4) minimize the number of phases and amount of occupancy during the restoration of the Library buildings.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

 

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