Capitol Visitor Center:

Schedule Delays Continue; Reassessment Underway

GAO-05-1037T: Published: Sep 15, 2005. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 2005.

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Mark L. Goldstein
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This testimony discusses progress on the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) project. Our remarks will focus on (1) the Architect of the Capitol's (AOC) progress in managing the project's schedule since the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, Senate Committee on Appropriations' July 14 hearing on the project; (2) our estimate of a general time frame for completing the base project's construction and the preliminary results of our assessment of the risks associated with AOC's July 2005 schedule for the base project; and (3) the project's costs and funding, including the potential impact of scheduling issues on cost. However, we will not, as originally planned, provide specific estimated completion dates because AOC's contractors revised the schedule in August to reflect recent delays, but AOC has not yet evaluated the revised schedule. AOC believes that the time added to the schedule by its contractors is unreasonable. Until AOC completes its evaluation and we assess it, any estimates of specific completion dates are, in our view, tentative and preliminary. Similarly, we will wait until the schedule is stabilized to update our November 2004 estimate of the cost to complete the project. Currently, AOC and its consultant, McDonough Bolyard Peck (MBP), are still developing their cost-to-complete estimates.

In summary, although AOC and its construction contractors have continued to make progress since the Subcommittee's July 14 CVC hearing, several delays have occurred and more are expected. These delays could postpone the base project's completion significantly beyond September 15, 2006, the date targeted in AOC's July 2005 schedule. Although not yet fully reviewed and accepted by AOC, the schedule that AOC's contractors revised in August 2005 shows February 26, 2007, as the base project's completion date. According to our preliminary analysis of the project's July 2005 schedule, the base project is more likely to be completed sometime in the spring or summer of 2007 than by September 15, 2006. Unless the project's scope is changed or extraordinary actions are taken, the base project is likely to be completed later than September 15, 2006, for the reasons cited by the contractors and for other reasons, such as the optimistic durations estimated for a number of activities and the risks and uncertainties facing the project. AOC believes that the contractors added too much time to the schedule in August for activities not included in the schedule and that it can expedite the project by working concurrently rather than sequentially and by taking other actions. Additionally, we are concerned about actions that have been, or could be, proposed to accelerate work to meet the September 15, 2006, target date. The project's schedule also raises a number of management concerns, including the potential for delays caused by not allowing enough time to address potential problems or to complete critical activities. Fiscal year 2006 appropriations have provided sufficient funds to cover AOC's request for CVC construction funding as well as additional funds for some risks and uncertainties that may arise, such as costs associated with additional sequence 2 delays or unexpected conditions. Although sequence 2 delays have been occurring, the extent to which the government is responsible for their related costs is not clear at this time. Additional funding may be necessary if the government is responsible for significant delay-related costs or if significant changes are made to the project's design or scope or to address unexpected conditions. In addition, we and AOC identified some CVC construction activities that received duplicate funding. AOC has discussed this issue with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

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