Report 2011-116.2 Recommendations and Responses in 2013-041

Report 2011-116.2: Department of General Services: Strengthening the Division of the State Architect's Workload Management and Performance Measurements Could Help It Avoid Delays in Processing Future Increases in Workload

Department Number of Years Reported As Not Fully Implemented Total Recommendations to Department Not Implemented After One Year Not Implemented as of 2012-041 Response Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
Department of General Services 1 10 3 n/a 0

Recommendation To: General Services, Department of

In order to avoid delays in plan review, the division should develop a policy that defines when it will expedite plan review using its statutory authority to contract for additional plan review resources.

Response

On November 30, 2012, DSA issued a policy which specifically addresses the use of its contracting authority to expedite plan review. DSA's intent in developing the policy was to provide guidance on the use of consultants to assist in ensuring that projects are reviewed within a timeline that meets the needs of a school or community college district (project owner). The policy includes guidelines which provide for the consideration of various issues such as budget constraints, workload demands and available staff resources in determining if consultants will be used to perform the plan review function.

To provide a project owner with relevant information on the plan review function, DSA publishes information on the average time taken to assign projects to plan review staff after receipt of a complete application, referred to as bin time. Subsequently, after the project has been assigned to plan review staff, a timeline is estimated for completion of the plan review phase of project review. In general, DSA moves projects to plan review in the order projects are received by the division. However, in some instances, the division gives priority to projects that have a specific turnaround identified by the project owner, such as a funding deadline.

Over the last few years, DSA generally has been able to complete the plan review function in a timely manner without the use of consultants. However, DSA management is continuing to actively monitor plan review function metrics, such as a maximum six week goal for bin time, to ensure that timely actions are taken to meet expected project turnaround times. These actions could involve expediting plan review through the reassigning of staff resources or contracting with consultants.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: November 2012
  • Response Date: October 2013

Recommendation To: General Services, Department of

To appropriately oversee changes to approved plans, the division should develop policies and procedures to ensure that it receives all relevant plan changes.

Response

In previous status reports, DSA noted that regulatory and procedural changes had been made that result in a more simplified and streamlined process for approving construction change documents. The regulations no longer refer to change orders or field changes whose tracking led to some of the concerns developed by the State Auditor. Instead, they require design professionals to submit all construction change documents related to the structural safety, access compliance, or fire and life safety portions of the project for division review and approval.

As noted in DGS' updates to BSA Report No. 2011-116.1 which focused on DSA's construction oversight and project close-out functions, DSA has taken numerous actions to ensure that adequate oversight is performed of project inspectors during construction. These actions include initiating a training program that focuses on ensuring that consistent construction oversight is being provided by its field engineers, including actively monitoring that construction is only conducted in accordance with approved construction documents. The training contained modules that address overseeing project inspector performance and record keeping during construction. The training sessions were conducted in August 2012, November 2012 and February 2013.

Recently, DSA also implemented a system that allows project architects/engineers to submit construction change documents electronically by establishing folders within DSAbox (DSA's cloud based internet solution). This system will assist in ensuring the timely submittal of plan changes for approval.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: October 2013
  • Response Date: October 2013

Recommendation To: General Services, Department of

To appropriately oversee changes to approved plans, the division should develop policies and procedures to ensure that it reviews and approves all relevant plan changes before the start of related construction.

Response

As noted under the previous recommendation, DSA has taken numerous actions to ensure that projects are constructed in accordance with approved construction documents. These robust actions should ensure that all relevant plan changes are identified and reviewed in timely manner.

On June 1, 2013, an inspection card process was also implemented for all new construction projects. The process allows for verification of structural integrity and fire and life safety at the completion of each applicable phase of a project. The implementation of this process included DSA providing detailed instructions related to a project inspector's role in ensuring that construction is conducted in accordance with approved construction documents. The inspectors are held responsible and accountable for complying with the requirements.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: June 2013
  • Response Date: October 2013

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2013-041