Capitol Visitor Center:

Current Status of Schedule and Estimated Cost

GAO-03-1014T: Published: Jul 15, 2003. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 2003.

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GAO has been providing ongoing assistance to the Capitol Preservation Commission and the Senate and House Appropriations Committees in their monitoring and oversight of the Capitol Visitor Center construction project. Given the current decisions facing the Congress, this testimony covers (1) management of the project, (2) the estimated cost for the project, (3) the status of the project's schedule, and (4) actions that Congress and the AOC should consider taking to address funding gaps and other current project issues and risks.

Recognizing the need for a new facility to provide greater security for all persons working in or visiting the United States Capitol and to enhance the educational experience of visitors who have come to learn about Congress and the Capitol building, Congress authorized the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) to build a new Capitol Visitor Center. The three-story, underground facility, located on the East side of the Capitol, is designed to be a seamless addition to the Capitol complex when completed without detracting from the appearance of the Capitol or its historic landscaping. Earlier this spring, GAO and the AOC determined that the estimated budget amount of $303.5 million for the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) "base project" was no longer current. Based on GAO's recommendation, the AOC hired a contractor to help analyze and update the cost estimate for completion of the base project. GAO's review of the contractor's "base cost" estimate analysis identified $7 million in adjustments, therefore increasing the contractor's $344.3 million estimate to $351.3 million. GAO also conducted a supplemental analysis to identify potential future costs due to additional risks and uncertainties not included in the updated estimates. The result of this supplemental analysis disclosed that these risks and uncertainties could raise the estimated cost to between $380 million and $395 million. These potential additional costs do not need to be added to the base project budget now; however, a number of actions need to be taken to mitigate known risks. The AOC's May 2003 status report indicates the project is on schedule for substantial completion of the plaza deck in January 2005, substantial completion of the CVC in September 2005, and final completion and opening to the public in December 2005. However, the project is currently experiencing delays and until the AOC compiles a fully integrated schedule, there will not be adequate information to determine whether the estimated completion dates are likely to be met.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: Although the AOC has already initiated some actions to address some issues, the AOC should and Congress may wish to continue to resolve contingency tracking and reporting issues to achieve a single and standardized budget and reporting format.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Beginning in March 2004, AOC added a construction contingency report to its monthly progress report on CVC that is provided to Congress, thus fully responding to this recommendation. The new report provides data, by CVC project component, on contingency funds (a) budgeted, (b) approved by the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, (c) obligated/committed, and (d) available. By developing and implementing a monthly report on CVC project contingency funds, AOC provides enhanced accountability to Congress on its use of those funds.

    Recommendation: Although the AOC has already initiated some actions to address some issues, the AOC should and Congress may wish to implement controls for the approval of changes and AOC's use of contingency funds.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AOC documented an approval process for CVC project change orders and its use of contingency funds in November 2003, including approval by the Capitol Preservation Commission of changes deemed optional, as well as approval of all changes by senior AOC management. AOC fully responded to our recommendation through this action. By documenting this process, AOC improved its controls over funds appropriated for the CVC project.

    Recommendation: Although the AOC has already initiated some actions to address some issues, the AOC should and Congress may wish to continue to resolve the scope, requirements, estimated costs, and funding sources for the items not in the base project, including the House and Senate expansion space.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AOC contracted for all additional work required within the Senate and House expansion space since our July 2003 testimony. Therefore, AOC fully responded to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: Although the AOC has already initiated some actions to address some issues, the AOC should and Congress may wish to continue to resolve the scope, requirements, estimated costs, and funding sources for unresolved items in the base project, such as fitout of the CVC administration, guide service, first aid and gift shop spaces.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AOC executed contract modifications for fitout of the CVC administration, guide service, first aid, and gift shop spaces since our July 2003 testimony. As a result, AOC fully responded to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: Although the AOC has already initiated some actions to address some issues, the AOC should and Congress may wish to ask the AOC to develop a plan to mitigate risk factors, to the extent practicable, and implement recommendations made by Tishman Construction Company in the May 16, 2003, report including, but not limited to: (1) revalidate the program of requirements for each cost element; (2) identify, contract for, and begin coordination of all operator requirements with existing design and construction efforts; (3) identify and involve the exhibit and audio visual equipment operators as soon as possible; and (4) institute a proactive schedule management and tracking system related to potential contractor delay claims.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AOC has included all program requirements in its updated cost-to-complete estimates for the CVC project since our July 2003 testimony. In addition, AOC hired a contractor to assist with planning for CVC operations, thus facilitating coordination of operator requirements with design and construction efforts. AOC has also contracted for all exhibit and audio/visual requirements and has been more proactive in managing the CVC project schedule--including utilizing outside experts in its analysis of project delays. Through these actions, AOC fully responded to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: Although the AOC has already initiated some actions to address some issues, the AOC should and Congress may wish to expeditiously develop a comprehensive, integrated master project schedule.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AOC currently has a comprehensive, integrated master project schedule. AOC provides monthly schedule updates for all Sequence 2 and expansion space work to its construction management contractor, Gilbane Building Company. Gilbane integrates schedules for other work, such as exhibit space, operations, and audio/visual, to produce a complete overall project schedule. Thus, AOC has fully responded to this recommendation.

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