Council Receives OLO Report
The Montgomery County Council received a report on July 300 from the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) that reviewed the County’s policies and procedures regarding the design and construction of public facilities. The report, which compared the County’s policies with those of 13 other jurisdictions and agencies, found that Montgomery’s written policies are as strong as the best of the others. However, the report says a next step would be to see if the policies are properly followed.
The report, entitled “Managing the Design and Construction of Public Facilities: A Coparative Review,” was compiled by Craig Howard and Kristen Latham of OLO. The report was requested by Council President Nancy Navarro and Roger Berliner, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, in light of the problems encountered in the construction of the Silver Spring Transit Center.
“I am pleased this report finds that Montgomery County’s formal procedures regarding the design and construction of public facilities conform to national best practices,” said Council President Navarro. “The Council will continue exercising its oversight responsibly to ensure these procedures are adequately followed.”
The report looked at policies and procedures for building public buildings of 13 other entities, including seven local governments (Prince George’s County, Fairfax County, Va.; Arlington County, Va.; Loudoun County, Va.; the District of Columbia; and the State of Maryland); two agencies (Montgomery County Public Schools and the Maryland Stadium Authority); and five jurisdictions beyond the Washington Region (the City of Austin, Tx.; Miami-Dade County, Fl.; New York City; Santa Clara County, Ca.; and Ventura County, Ca.).
“Designing and constructing a public facility is a complex and detailed process,” states the executive summary of the OLO report. “OLO found that the County Government’s Department of General Services (DGS) has established several key oversight structures for each phase of the process. These key structures do not vary substantially from the structures or models used by the other jurisdictions and agencies surveyed.”
Among the procedures used by the County and other jurisdictions include:
- Require formal quality control plans in both the construction and design phases to ensure that contractors perform activities in conformance with project specifications.
- Standardize monitoring and reporting during the construction process, including standardized progress meetings; daily, weekly and/or monthly written reports; and routine site-visits from the project management team.
- Multiple layers of inspections, tests and approvals. Most of the jurisdictions reviewed use independent, third-party contract inspectors for formal inspections not conducted by a permitting authority, while a few jurisdictions use internal staff to conduct some inspections.
The OLO report goes on to say that now that it has been determined that the County has solid practices in place, there may be a desire to see if those practices are followed—and if not, why.
“A logical next step in the Council’s oversight of public facility design and construction is to examine the County Government’s performance in implementing these structures in practice,” said the report’s executive summary. “Along those lines, OLO’s FY14 Work Program includes a project to review the process and results of ‘change orders’ for County Government construction contracts, including case studies of recent facility projects. Some jurisdictions and agencies use change order rates as a performance measure to assess the design and construction process.”
The complete report is available on the OLO web site at: http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/csltmpl.asp?url=/Content/council/olo/index.asp .