District of Columbia Public Schools:

Availability of Funds and the Cost of FY 1997 Roof Projects

AIMD-98-82: Published: Mar 9, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1998.

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Gloria L. Jarmon
(202) 512-4476


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the District of Columbia Public Schools' (DCPS) efforts to repair school roofs during the summer of 1997, focusing on the conflicting information on the availability of funds to pay for the roof work and the cost, including cost per square foot, of the work completed in fiscal year (FY) 1997.

GAO noted that: (1) sufficient funding was available to begin roof work when schools were closed for the summer June 20, 1997; (2) the District's records show that the Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority had about $18 million available in March 1997 for DCPS-managed roof work, with the available amount increasing to about $38 million by June 1997; (3) a series of events preceeding the efforts to repair D.C. school roofs contributed to the delayed start; (4) although it was decided that DCPS would manage the majority of this work, DCPS was not prepared to start immediately because it had not completed sufficient planning, such as determining the scope of work on individual projects which would be the basis for seeking bids for that work; (5) a contributing factor to this delay was the almost complete turnover in technical capital project staff during the school year; (6) these problems were compounded by difficulties in securing bids, resulting in DCPS-managed work not starting until the third week of July; (7) DCPS stated that at the time the long-range plan was submitted in February 1997, it had expected to complete roof work by the end of October 1997 but accelerated it in response to a court order that roof work would not be done while classes were in session; (8) consequently, the work was accomplished under a highly compressed schedule; (9) GAO's review showed that DCPS spent about $37 million for roof replacement or repair in FY 1997; (10) this included a extensive amount of work not only on the roofs, but also on adjacent upper portions of the buildings to achieve structurally sound, watertight facilities; (11) as a result, the costs were higher than what would have been incurred for roofing work only; (12) considering all of these costs, the average cost per square foot of roof surface replaced or repaired was about $20, with DCPS-managed contracts somewhat higher than those managed by the General Services Administration; (13) insufficient data exist to ascertain with any certainty the added cost associated with the degree of deferred maintenance encountered in this extensive project; (14) years of neglect and inadequate repair and maintenance practices all served to increase costs over what could be expected in well-managed, adequately financed entities; (15) DCPS plans for FY 1998 show additional roof work at 40 more schools at an approximate cost of $35 million; and (16) in addition, DCPS proposed Capital Improvement Program Plan for fiscal years 1999-2004 indicates that an additional $63 million is anticipated for roof replacement or repairs during this period.

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