Capitol Visitor Center:
Update on Status of Project's Schedule and Cost as of September 25, 2007
GAO-07-1249T: Published: Sep 25, 2007. Publicly Released: Sep 25, 2007.
Since the July 31, 2007, Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) hearing, the project's construction has progressed, and Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is now anticipating a November 2008, opening date. In addition, AOC and the sequence 2 contractor have signed a contract modification that extends the date for completing the majority of the sequence 2 work from September 15, 2006 to November 15, 2007. However, because delays have occurred on a number of near-critical paths, and risks to the project's schedule remain, we agree with the November 2008 opening date. AOC has increased its estimate of the cost to complete the CVC project's construction to about $621 million to cover the costs associated with extending the sequence 2 schedule and to provide for delays, change orders, and remaining uncertainties. We believe this estimate is reasonable, provided there are no unusual delays. To date, about $556.2 million has been approved for CVC construction, and AOC has $18.6 million more that it has not yet received approval to obligate. Of this amount, AOC plans to use about $6 million for construction and the remainder for operations. For fiscal year 2008, AOC has requested $20 million for CVC construction and believes that it may need another $39 million.
According to AOC's construction management contractor, in dollar terms, the overall CVC project is 98 percent complete, compared with 96 percent reported complete at the July 31 CVC hearing. Twenty-one of the CVC's 23 air handling units were reportedly operating full time as of September 13, 2007 and these systems are now undergoing testing, balancing, and commissioning. In August 2007, AOC and the sequence 2 contractor signed a contract modification that extends the date for completing the majority of the sequence 2 work from September 15, 2006, to November 15, 2007. The sequence 2 contractor continues to work hard on completing this portion of the project, which must be finished before the final fire alarm testing can begin. Work has advanced on the project's heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, interior wall stone and ceiling installation, and other interior and exterior construction work. Although the delays in work on the CVC's near-critical paths are significant, the major risk to the project's schedule continues to be technical problems that may surface during the installation, integration, operation and testing of the CVC's complex major building systems, including the fire alarm, security and HVAC systems. Moreover, such technical problems may not be evident until the systems undergo their final acceptance testing. Additional potential change orders also pose risks and continue to be identified by the CVC team each month. AOC and its contractors have continued to work together to address the number of open (unresolved) potential change orders, and the list of open orders has continued its slight decline. Sustained attention to this issue is needed to reduce budget uncertainty and to avoid risks to the project's schedule as new proposed change orders come in. AOC has increased its estimate of the cost to complete the CVC project's construction to about $621 million. This revised estimate reflects, among other things, the cost associated with extending the date for completing sequence 2 work and is consistent with our report at the July 31, 2007, CVC hearing that the total cost of completing the project's construction was likely to exceed $600 million. The new $621 million estimate includes contingency amounts for delays, change orders, and remaining uncertainties among other things related to the project's fire alarm testing. Our review of this estimate indicates that it is reasonable, given the information available at this time, provided there are no extraordinary delays in the future. Although there is still considerable uncertainty about the cost impact of earlier construction delays and future fire alarm testing, we believe reasonable budgetary allowances have been made.