Capitol Visitor Center:
Status of Project's Schedule and Cost as of March 15, 2006
GAO-06-528T: Published: Mar 15, 2006. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 2006.
This testimony discusses the Architect of the Capitol's progress in achieving selected project milestones and in managing the project's schedule since Congress's February 15, 2006, hearing on the project. As part of this discussion, we will address a number of key challenges and risks that continue to face the project, as well as actions AOC has taken or plans to take to address these risks. In addition, we will discuss the status of the project's costs and funding.
Since Congress's February 15 CVC hearing, the CVC team has continued to move the project's construction forward, but we continue to believe, as we said at the February hearing, that AOC's proposed opening dates--April 2007 for the base CVC project and May 2007 for the House and Senate expansion spaces--do not allow enough time to complete several critical activities and to address problems, challenges, risks, and uncertainties. During the past month, the CVC team has essentially maintained the pace of critical interior wall stone installation, developed a draft work plan for floor stone installation, started to develop a work plan to prevent a stacking of trades during finish work, and maintained the opening dates that AOC announced at the February CVC hearing. However, the number of activities critical to the project's timely completion has increased, and several of these activities are now scheduled to take longer to complete than planned. In addition, wall stone deliveries are still backlogged, critical building systems still have to be commissioned and tested, and although the project's overall design is essentially complete, certain design elements are still incomplete or are being clarified or refined. If the CVC team is successful in addressing these issues, we believe that the base CVC project can be opened to the public with a temporary cap on visitor occupancy in May 2007 and that the expansion spaces can be opened for occupancy beginning in mid-August to early September 2007. Congress may even be able to occupy the expansion spaces earlier if AOC implements a phased opening plan it is considering and if AOC is able to perform acceptance testing of the CVC and the expansion spaces concurrently rather than sequentially--a possibility AOC is continuing to explore. Nonetheless, we believe that AOC will be challenged to meet the later dates we are projecting because of the problems, challenges, risks, and uncertainties facing the project. We currently estimate that the total cost to complete the entire CVC project is about $556 million without an allowance for risks and uncertainties. This estimate exceeds our February 15 estimate by about $1 million because AOC now preliminarily estimates that it will need about that much to pay for contractual support needed to complete acceptance testing of the facility's fire protection system in time to meet the project's schedule. AOC plans to use its general administration appropriations for this work, including funds for fiscal year 2006 that it has on hand and about $950,000 in fiscal year 2007 funds that Congress has not yet provided. To date, about $528 million has been provided for CVC construction. We continue to estimate that AOC will need about $25.6 million more in CVC construction funds to complete the entire CVC project without an allowance for risks and uncertainties and taking into account funding AOC plans to use from existing appropriations. Our $584 million estimate of the cost to complete the entire project with an allowance for risks and uncertainties remains unchanged because the cost of acceptance testing is one of the uncertainties covered by this allowance.