Topic:
SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION; BUILDING CODES; GOVERNMENT PURCHASING; STATE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS; HIGHER EDUCATION;
Location:
BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS; UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT;

OLR Research Report


December 30, 2005

 

2005-R-0829

(Revised)

UCONN PLAN TO IMPLEMENT ACCOUNTABILITY COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS

 

By: Saul Spigel, Chief Analyst

You asked us to compare the recommendations of the Governor's Commission on UConn Review and Accountability with the UConn Board of Trustees' plan to implement them.

SUMMARY

Table 1 lists the commission's recommendations; the board of trustees' response including, in some instances, its rationale; and the differences between them, if any. The trustees' response (which we call the UConn plan) is based on a draft prepared by board chairman John Rowe.

The UConn plan fully implements most of the commission's recommendations. The principal exception lies in the area of organizational restructuring. The commission called for creating an independent building committee to actively manage UConn 2000 construction, while the UConn plan gives this committee a purely oversight role. Current law makes the UConn president responsible for UConn 2000 construction. Legislation is needed to establish this committee and will need to specify the relationship between it and university administration.

Other differences include the UConn plan's failure to (1) include various reporting mechanisms the commission recommended, (2) specify whether the newly created chief construction assurance officer position reports to the board of trustees, and (3) identify a mechanism to review progress in implementing the commission's recommendations.

Table 1: Recommendation & Implementation Plan Comparison

Commission Recommendation

Trustees Implementation Plan

Difference/Comment

 

AUDITS

 

UConn should implement full recommendations of 3 previous audit reports.

UConn agrees “to the extent that these recommendations remain applicable to the program and consistent with the Commission's report.”

Commission calls for “full” implementation; UConn's acceptance is conditional.

Board of trustees should list each audit's and management letter's recommendations, establish a time to implement them, and a person primarily responsible for implementation.

Board's Joint Audit & Compliance Committee (JACC) should monitor implementation dates.

UConn has already compiled a list of recommendations and will establish implementation timelines and name responsible person for each. A monitoring mechanism was included in an audit plan presented to JACC on 9/8/05.

None

 

INCREASED OVERSIGHT

 

Trustees shall not serve consecutive 6-year terms.

Successors must be appointed within 90 days after a term expires.

UConn sees recommendation's goal as assuring a steady flow of new members and is “committed fully” to working with governor & legislature on implementation.

Suggests implementation options in addition to term limit, including 1-year staggered terms, “gubernatorial discretion,” and legislature exercising its confirmation authority.

UConn does not explicitly endorse term limit

Not clear what plan means in this context by “gubernatorial discretion” or legislature exercising its confirmation authority.

Board should select & appoint independent auditors for all capital construction projects who have unfettered access to all documentation they need to conduct an appropriate review.

Board's JACC will select & appoint auditors, who will be provided full & complete access to documents.

Projected implementation date: 12/15/05

None

JACC should meet alone at least annually with independent auditors, with no UConn management staff present.

JACC will make provisions to meet with external auditors without management's presence periodically but not less than annually.

None

All board-authorized audits should be included in UConn's financial reports to legislature and governor.

All authorized audits will be included in financial reports beginning with next submission on January 15, 2006.

None

Trustees should consider creating a “whistleblower” process for contractors and others involved in UConn 2000 & 21st Century projects that is independent of the one available under state law.

UConn is developing a whistleblower process, which it expects to be in place by December 1, 2005.

None

Board of trustees should have a building & grounds committee independent of its Financial Affairs Committee and the university administration's Building & Grounds Committee.

Board tentatively agrees with this recommendation.

 
 

ORGANIZATIONAL RESTRUCTURING

 

University should establish an independent, 7-member Building Committee to be responsible for management of all UConn 2000 and 21st Century construction projects. Members appointed by governor and Board of Trustees.

Among other activities this committee will:

Develop a construction program for all UConn 2000 projects

Select design professionals & contractors

Award goods & services contracts

Authorize contract changes

Monitor & approve change orders.

University will

Establish an independent, 7-member Construction Management Committee, appointed as commission recommended. A majority of members will have significant expertise in managing, overseeing, or governing large construction management programs or activities.

Seek legislation to create a special board committee to govern construction management activities and allow it to delegate its duties and authority to the Construction Management Committee as appropriate and necessary.

Construction Management Committee's mission is to:

Ensure buildings are safe, code compliant, & cost-effective

Oversee policies, procedures, & guidelines, including those for selecting design professionals & contractors

Establish & monitor project budgets.

The committee will be responsible for overseeing, among other things, management's

proposed construction program;

bid solicitation and selection process;

reports on design professional & contractor selection, contract changes, and change orders.

The commission's recommendations call for the committee to have direct management authority—it selects design professionals and contractors, awards contracts, and authorizes changes in them, and approves change orders.

Under the UConn plan, the committee's role appears to be, with the exception of establishing project budgets, mainly overseeing management activities—it reviews management actions and reports.

Hire a full-time director of capital projects to develop overall management plan to coordinate construction of existing UConn 2000 & 21st and report quarterly to board of trustees.

Establish chief construction assurance officer position who:

reports to Construction Management Committee and university president

with varied UConn personnel, jointly develops standards to guide committee in oversight responsibilities and ensures that standards comply with state and university requirements.

UConn president & chief operating officer, in coordination with construction assurance officer, is responsible for providing committee with framework to fulfill its oversight responsibilities.

State law and university by-laws make president responsible for managing construction process. He delegates day-to-day responsibility to VP & chief operating officer (COO), who reports to Construction Management Committee concerning all aspects of construction program.

UConn plan does not say if chief construction

assurance officer develops management plan

or reports to board quarterly.

While the commission recommends that Construction

Management Committee be independent and hire its

own director, it does not specify its relationship with UConn's administration. If it is given active management role, statutory changes may be needed to reconcile its and UConn president's authority.

 

CODE COMPLIANCE

 

Office of Fire Marshall & Building Inspector staff should report directly to Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Responsibility for code compliance for any building, threshold or nonthreshold, will be vested solely with DPS. Staff, whether UConn or DPS employees, will report directly to DPS.

None

All buildings, threshold or nonthreshold, should be treated equally.

All building plans & revisions will be reviewed for fire and safety code compliance before construction.

Responsibility for code compliance during construction for any building, threshold or nonthreshold, will be vested solely with DPS.

None

All buildings constructed during UConn 2000 program that have not been fully inspected by independent building inspector must be inspected by February 1, 2006.

UConn is working with DPS to do this by commission deadline.

None

All building plans & revisions must be reviewed for fire & safety code compliance before construction.

Effective July 1, 2005, all building plans & revisions are being reviewed for code compliance before construction.

None

UConn will be responsible for all costs of new responsibilities.

UConn agrees

None

 

BUDGET & FINANCE

 

UConn must conduct a comprehensive assessment of its existing physical plant & institute a plan similar to the Department of Higher Education's Asset Protection Plan.

University will update its 2003 facility condition analysis by July 1, 2006.

None

The Independent Building Committee must approve a prioritized list of deferred maintenance funding for board approval.

University should approve a prioritized list of deferred maintenance funding for board approval.

To achieve both recommendations, university will recommend an annual deferred maintenance allocation as part of board's annual capital budget approval process. VP & COO will review priorities with the Building Committee (which UConn renames the Construction Management Committee) and chief construction assurance officer. UConn's process establishes priorities through various categories of proposed expenditures & provides for unallocated funds in each category.

Plan limits Building Committee largely to oversight role with the exception that the committee establishes and monitors project budgets.

Building Committee must develop “cost & budget” manual that incorporates guidelines for establishing fee structure for architects & construction managers. Public Works Department (DPW) manual should be used in absence of UConn manual.

University & chief construction assurance officer will review DPW manual, tailor one for UConn by January 1, 2006, and propose its use to Construction Management Committee's Committee.

None

Building Committee will establish a realistic budget for each project.

Building Committee should hold architect & contractor to the final approved budget.

Building Committee will establish project budgets.

University will review various models and incorporate them into its revised project budgeting format.

Plan does not reference the Building Committee's role in holding architects and contractors accountable to budget.

UConn should

fully reconcile its financial records system (FRS) and CAPSTAT, its capital project management software and

provide a detailed, accurate annual report to the governor, legislative committees, and state auditors on all UConn 2000 expenditures.

UConn will reconcile FRS & CAPSTAT to extent possible.

Plan does not mention financial reporting part of recommendation (although UConn officials state this was an oversight and that they will provide these reports).

 

CONSTRUCTION PROCESS

 

UConn should use the Administrative Services Department's (DAS) prequalification process.

DAS and UConn process are similar since the former was based in part on the latter. UConn VP & COO will review discrepancies with Chief Construction Compliance Officer and recommend revised procedures to Construction Management Committee.

Following the procedure in the plan may result in continued discrepancies between DAS and UConn prequalification processes.

UConn could use DAS process as a preliminary screen, then apply its own criteria for final prequalification.

All construction projects should be

bid competitively, with some exceptions;

re-bid if fewer than 3 bids are received; and

awarded to lowest qualified bidder.

Most UConn projects have been advertised competitively and awarded to lowest qualified bidder or construction manager at risk with lowest cost proposal.

UConn uses RFP process to select construction managers who submit lowest cost proposal.

UConn recently changed procedures to require construction managers to solicit bids from trade contractors through a standard solicitation of bids advertised according to state law.

UConn will include DPW staff in the team it uses to select all future construction managers.

UConn will continue to follow state law in soliciting bids for design-bid-build projects. Will begin immediately to strengthen procedures for documenting decision-making in making awards. VP & COO will review with Construction Management Committee to find out how it would like to modify processes.

Plan does not specify that future projects will be re-bid if fewer than 3 bids are received initially.

If a construction management contract is used, the Building Committee should consider using, when appropriate, a bonus/penalty clause or “share-in-the saving” process.

UConn will apply the following guidelines to bonus/penalty and “share-in-the saving” clauses

They will be negotiated on a project-by-project basis depending on schedule

“Share-in-the saving” clauses will be negotiated after a construction manager is selected. Contract amount at risk must be agreed to before these clauses are discussed.

None

All warranty work (labor & materials) should be inspected before the standard 1–year expiration.

A system should be established to inspect each facility, identify deficiencies, and forward the list to the contractor before the end of the warranty period for corrective action.

UConn will set up a process to insure inspection of warranty work before end of warranty period.

None

University should conduct periodic audits of the construction administrators' & the project managers' costs to ensure it is being accurately charged for services rendered.

Beginning with FY 04 audit, UConn will include a review of construction administrators' & project managers' invoices.

None

 

REVIEWING IMPLEMENTATION PROGRESS

 

Governor should meet periodically with UConn president & board of trustees chairman to review implementation of the commission's recommendations. This is a “suggestion,” not a recommendation.

Governor is a UConn trustee, ex officio.

Plan does not address this.

SS:tjo