De Blasio plan would improve New York City capital project delivery
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to improve capital project delivery at the Department of Design and Construction, New York City’s leading construction management agency.
According to de Blasio, the plan could trim construction costs and project timelines to deliver essential public works projects faster and within budget.
"This plan will ensure critical infrastructure projects are finished faster and with less disruption to our neighborhoods,” de Blasio said Thursday.
One egregious example of project waste — $2 million for a Parks and Recreation Department 400-square-foot bathroom project at Gravesend Park in Brooklyn — triggered national headlines two years ago.
Strategies, outlined in DCC's report, "A Strategic Blueprint for Construction Excellence," include modernizing procurement; use of alternative delivery methods such as design-build; streamlining change order approval and payment; minimizing midstream scope changes and working more effectively with utilities.
Interference with utilities under city streets is a leading cause of delays to infrastructure projects, according to the mayor. DDC is working to establish early, regular coordination with utility companies for scheduling clarity. DDC, he said, will expand the use of joint bidding when utility and city work can be performed simultaneously, eliminating potential disruptions.
"The plan has enormous potential to reduce the time and cost of city-managed construction projects, which for too long have been out of control," said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the think tank Center for an Urban Future.
The center's report in 2017, "Slow Build," said infrastructure projects for libraries and cultural institutions that DDC manages take much longer to complete and cost much more than similar capital projects that the institutions themselves or other governmental agencies manage.
Within the report, an analysis of 144 DDC-managed capital projects by watchdog Citizens Budget Commission showed the median capital project took more than four years to complete and 17 lasted more than seven years.
The median cost for new buildings in the study sample was $930 per square foot, or about double the cost of new office space in the city at the time.