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entitled 'Capitol Visitor Center: Update on Status of Project's 
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Before the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, Committee on 
Appropriations, House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 


For Release on Delivery Expected at 9:00 a.m. EST: 

Wednesday, November 14, 2007: 

Capitol Visitor Center: 

Update on Status of Project's Schedule and Cost as of October 31, 2007: 

Statement of Terrell G. Dorn, Director, 

Physical Infrastructure Issues: 

Capitol Visitor Center: 


Madam Chair and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to assist the 
Subcommittee in monitoring progress on the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) 
project. My remarks will focus on (1) the Architect of the Capitol's 
(AOC) construction progress since the last CVC hearing on September 25, 
2007,[Footnote 1] and (2) the project's expected cost at completion and 
funding status. 

Today's remarks are based on our review of schedules and financial 
reports for the CVC project and related records maintained by AOC and 
its construction management contractor, Gilbane Building Company; our 
observations on the progress of work at the CVC construction site; and 
our discussions with the CVC team (AOC and its major CVC contractors), 
AOC's Chief Fire Marshal, and representatives from the U.S. Capitol 
Police. We also reviewed AOC's construction management contractor's 
periodic schedule assessments, potential change order log, and weekly 
reports on construction progress. In addition, we reviewed the contract 
modifications made to date. 


Since the September 25, 2007, CVC hearing, the project's construction 
has progressed, and AOC is still anticipating a November 2008 opening 
date. In addition, AOC is soliciting contractor support to assist with 
fire alarm acceptance testing and is also considering using other 
employees to assist with fire alarm testing. However, risks to the 
project's schedule remain, including delays in procuring fire alarm 
testing assistance and in the completing the fire alarm testing. 

AOC's current estimate of the cost to complete the CVC project's 
construction, reported at the September 25, 2007 hearing, is about $621 
million. We believe this estimate is reasonable, provided there are no 
unusual delays. To date, about $556.2 million has been approved for CVC 
construction, and AOC has $6 million more in fiscal year 2007 CVC 
appropriations that it plans to use for construction after it obtains 
congressional approval to obligate these funds. For fiscal year 2008, 
AOC has requested $20 million for CVC construction and believes that it 
may need another $39 million. 

Construction Is Nearly Complete, but Remaining Risks Could Affect the 
Scheduled Opening Date: 

According to AOC's construction management contractor, in dollar terms, 
the overall CVC project is 98 percent complete,[Footnote 2] the same 
percentage reported at the September 25 CVC hearing. Twenty-two of the 
23 air-handling units are now operational. In addition, 18 of the 19 
the air-handling units necessary for smoke control have been 
commissioned, and AOC expects the remaining unit to be commissioned 
before the final fire alarm acceptance testing is scheduled to begin. 

In August 2007, AOC and the sequence 2 contractor signed a contract 
modification that extended the date for completing the majority of the 
sequence 2 work from September 15, 2006, to November 15, 2007. Since 
the last hearing, the remaining work and site cleanup have continued to 
progress across the project. With only 2 weeks left before November 15, 
AOC anticipates that the sequence 2 contractor will meet the revised 
completion date; however, an extensive punch list of corrective actions 
will remain for the contractor to complete before the building's 
anticipated opening in November 2008. Making these corrections and 
finishing other work scheduled for completion after November 15, 2007, 
while simultaneously conducting the final fire alarm acceptance testing 
will present challenges to the CVC team. For example, corrective action 
to repair ceilings or walls may create excessive dust, which could 
cause false fire alarms, disrupt the fire alarm testing schedule, and 
reduce the time remaining to prepare for the CVC's startup and 
operations. AOC has taken steps to mitigate this risk. Furthermore, 
delays in the fire alarm acceptance testing could delay the dates for 
completing the CVC project's construction and for opening the CVC 
project. AOC is currently soliciting contractor support to assist with 
the fire alarm testing, but negotiations are not yet complete. The CVC 
team is also developing plans for AOC employees to assist in completing 
the testing. 

As of October 19, 2007, AOC had not issued the September update of its 
construction schedule. Its weekly progress reports indicate that 
although minor problems have occurred as construction has proceeded, 
AOC does not expect any of the problems to delay the substantial 
completion of sequence 2 work by November 15, 2007, which will allow 
the fire alarm acceptance testing to begin. Since the successful 
completion of the testing is critical to obtaining a certificate of 
occupancy for the CVC and preparing for operations, any delays in 
starting this testing could place the CVC's opening in November 2008 
more at risk. Additional potential change orders also pose risks and 
continue to be identified by the CVC team each month. AOC and its 
contractors have continued to work together to address the number of 
open (unresolved) potential change orders, and the list of open orders 
has remained essentially unchanged. Sustained attention to this issue 
is needed to reduce budget uncertainty and to avoid risks to the 
project's schedule as new proposed change orders come in. Figure 1 
compares the number of outstanding proposed change orders with the 
number settled each month. 

Figure 1: Outstanding and Settled Proposed Change Orders by Month, 
March 2006 through September 2007: 

This figure is a combination line graph showing outstanding and settled 
proposed change orders by month, between March 2006 and September 2007. 
The X axis represents dates, while the Y axis represents the number. 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: AOC's construction management contractor. 

[End of figure] 

AOC's Cost Estimate Remains the Same, and Timing of Need for Additional 
Funds Has Not Been Determined: 

In September, AOC increased its estimate of the cost to complete the 
CVC project's construction to about $621 million. The new $621 million 
estimate includes, among other things, contingency amounts for delays, 
change orders, and remaining uncertainties related to the project's 
fire alarm testing. 

To date, about $556.2 million has been approved for CVC construction, 
and AOC has $6 million more in fiscal year 2007 CVC appropriations that 
it plans to use for construction after it obtains congressional 
approval to obligate these funds. AOC has requested $20 million in 
fiscal year 2008 CVC appropriations for construction and estimates, on 
the basis of its new project estimate, that it may need an additional 
$39 million. 

Madam Chair, this completes my prepared statement. I would be pleased 
to answer any questions that you or Members of the Subcommittee may 

Contacts and Acknowledgments: 

For further information about this testimony, please contact Terrell 
Dorn at (202) 512-6923. Other key contributors to this testimony 
include Shirley Abel, Lindsay Bach, Maria Edelstein, Elizabeth 
Eisenstadt, Jeanette Franzel, Jackie Hamilton, Bradley James, David 
Merrill, and Joshua Ormond. 

[End of section] 


[1] GAO, Capitol Visitor Center: Update on Status of Project's Schedule 
and Cost as of September 25, 2007, GAO-07-1249T (Washington, D.C.: 
Sept. 25, 2007). 

[2] In other words, the sequence 2 contractor has received about 98 
percent of the current contract value. This value does not include the 
costs of unsettled proposed change orders, potential claims, and work 
performed outside the current contract, such as the fire marshal's fire 
alarm acceptance testing. 

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