Capitol Visitor Center:

Update on Status of Project's Schedule and Cost as of February 16, 2007

GAO-07-507T: Published: Feb 16, 2007. Publicly Released: Feb 16, 2007.

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At the last Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) hearing, GAO reported that our assessment of the project's schedule and expected cost at completion was somewhat constrained because the CVC team was still analyzing the impact on the project's schedule and cost of recently identified changes required for certain components of the fire protection and security systems. The impact of these changes on the project is not yet fully known. Therefore, GAO could not thoroughly assess the project's schedule or estimated cost at completion and are basing our views on the information available as of February 5, 2007, including the Architect Of the Capitol's (AOC) December 2006 schedule. To assist the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, House Committee on Appropriations in monitoring progress on the CVC project, GAO's remarks will focus on (1) the AOC construction progress since the last CVC hearing on November 15, 2006; and (2) the project's expected cost at completion and status of funding.

Since the November 15, 2006, CVC hearing, the CVC team has continued to move the project's construction forward, but because of delays primarily associated with the fire alarm system, AOC's December 2006 schedule shows that the CVC will be available for occupancy in December 2007, almost 2 months later than previously estimated, and further delays are possible. Over the past 3 months, the CVC team has made progress on the project's heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system; interior floor stone and ceiling installation; and other interior and exterior construction work. However, problems with the project's most critical activity--the fire protection system--required AOC to extend the project's schedule by 2 months. In addition, problems with many other important activities, including work on the East Front and the House and Senate expansion spaces, have not yet affected the project's completion date, but could do so in the future. These problems, together with other indicators of construction progress suggest that the project is more likely to be available for occupancy in early 2008. Furthermore, the project continues to face risks and uncertainties that could affect its progress, especially risks associated with the final testing of its major building systems, which is not scheduled to take place until July 2007. Since the fall of 2006, AOC has been implementing an action plan designed to improve the CVC team's execution of the project and the project's schedule. It is too early to tell what impact this plan will have on delays, but the CVC team's efforts to date--including weekly schedule reviews and frequent site inspections--provide greater management control of the sequence 2 work. However, to complete, or come close to completing, the project in December 2007, AOC will need to take action to mitigate any risks that it has not yet addressed and continue to implement its CVC action plan aggressively, focusing particularly on those actions that are critical to completing the work on schedule. Accordingly, we are recommending that AOC (1) reassess the project's schedule risks, develop risk mitigation strategies, and determine a realistic completion date, and (2) continue to aggressively implement its November 2006 CVC action plan, incorporating work on the expansion spaces and other building areas. As we reported at the November CVC hearing, GAO roughly estimates that the total cost of the entire CVC project at completion is likely to be about $592 million without an allowance for risks and uncertainties and over $600 million with such an allowance. GAO has not updated the estimate of the project's cost at completion with an allowance for risks and uncertainties. To date, about $538 million has been provided for CVC construction. For fiscal year 2007, AOC has requested about $26 million in additional appropriations for CVC construction, a portion of which it has already received, and for fiscal year 2008, it has requested another $20 million in CVC construction appropriations to cover remaining costs. Based on the estimates GAO reported at the November hearing, it is believed that, in total, AOC may need about $15 million more than it has requested to date to complete the project, without provision for risks and uncertainties.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AOC established a risk mitigation program to review and resolve risks associated with the CVC, including all systems such as the HVAC system. AOC has completed its risk review and resolution of the majority of the risks identified is noted in their final plan. In August 2007, AOC signed a contract modification revising the contract competition date to November 15, 2007, for all work except the final testing of the fire alarm system.

    Recommendation: The Architect of the Capitol should promptly reassess the risks associated with, and the likelihood of, meeting the project's schedule, especially with respect to the installation, successful operation and integration, and testing of major building systems; coordinate all work associated with the HVAC system; take appropriate action to mitigate any risks that have not been sufficiently addressed; and provide Congress with a realistic completion date.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AOC is focusing on critical and near critical activities in their weekly schedule meetings. This weekly review includes House and Senate expansion spaces and the Jefferson Building, which was recently completed. In addition, the construction manager provides a monthly schedule report that focuses on these critical and near critical activities.

    Recommendation: The Architect of the Capitol should continue to aggressively implement the November 2006 CVC action plan, including focus on the near-critical activities that can further delay the completion of the expansion spaces and the steps that can be taken to ensure that the pace of work is sufficient to meet the schedule. Also include work on the House and Senate expansion spaces, major building systems, and the Jefferson Building in weekly schedule review sessions.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol


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