Audit Report In Brief

The Department of Design and Construction (Department) manages the design and construction of more than $6 billion new and renovated City facilities such as firehouses, libraries, courthouses, sewers, and water mains.  The Department uses job order contracting (JOC), a construction procurement method, for performing small- or medium-sized construction projects.  Under a job order contract, the Department’s Job Order Contracting Unit (JOC Unit) can direct a contractor to perform individual tasks as needed rather than awarding individual contracts for each small project.  The cost of JOC work is based on previously established unit prices for specific items (e.g., roofing, drywall, etc.).  Using the established unit prices, the JOC Unit will issue a job order to a job order contractor to carry out the work based on specific tasks.

The Department’s use of JOC began in 1996 when the Department employed a consultant, The Gordian Group, to develop and implement the Department’s JOC program that included creating a catalog of unit prices, software (PROGEN), and training and ongoing management throughout the life of the contract.

In Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010, the Department utilized 19 job order contracts authorizing  up to $74 million in construction expenditures.  Under these contracts, the Department executed   139 specific job orders totaling $24,549,827.

Audit Findings and Conclusions

The Department is unlikely to attain between $2 million and $3.7 million in cost savings from the JOC program because the program is not being administered as effectively as it should be.   Had the program been administered more effectively, the Department might have achieved a cost saving that, according to the Department’s JOC Training and Reference Manual, could  “save a typical facility owner 8-15% [highlighted in the manual] in overall project costs as compared to traditional contracting methods.”  Specifically, we found that job orders are not developed in a timely manner, cost estimates are not reliable indicators of the actual cost of work, and construction work is not carried out in a timely manner.  Moreover, there is a lack of guidelines that spell out the circumstances and monetary threshold for job order work and a lack of standards for measuring whether the JOC program is, in fact, achieving anticipated cost savings.

Furthermore, when job order work was delayed, the Department did not impose liquidated damages totaling more than $450,000.  Additionally,  problems with the Department’s PROGEN database impede the Department’s ability to effectively monitor the status of JOC project work and ensure that projects are proceeding expeditiously.  Finally, our observation of sampled job order projects and a review of file documentation leads us to conclude that the quality of work overall was satisfactory.

Audit Recommendations

This report makes a total of 12 recommendations, including that the Department:

  • Formulate measurement criteria to assess whether the JOC program is attaining its goal of achieving savings in overall project costs.
  • Complete development and submit job orders for registration within the required 45-day timeframe.
  • Provide independent estimates for job order work.
  • Ensure that JOC contractors complete work on schedule.
  • Develop and implement written guidelines that stipulate the circumstances and monetary threshold under which the use of job order contracts would be appropriate.
  • Ensure that all job orders contain provisions for liquidated damages.  Determine whether liquidated damages should be assessed for the cases noted in this report.
  • Ensure that accurate and complete information is recorded in the PROGEN system.

Agency Response

In its response, the Department stated that “The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) appreciates the City Comptroller’s efforts with respect to this audit of DDC’s administration of the Job Order Contracting (JOC) program and will be using this report to help improve our process.” The Department agreed with eight recommendations and disagreed with four recommendations.

One of the areas of disagreement concerns our recommendation that the Department formulate measurement criteria to assess whether the JOC program is attaining its goal of achieving savings in overall project costs as compared to traditional contracting methods.  The Department disagreed with this recommendation for the following reasons:

  • that the main purpose of the JOC program, which is to expedite the procurement process for work for which it is ideally suited, may not necessarily translate to cost savings, and;
  • that the criteria that we used to estimate possible cost savings and which we obtained from the Department’s JOC Manual, was simply part of the Department’s JOC consultant’s marketing material.  Consequently, the Department intends to remove any “marketing materials” from its updated JOC Manual.

We disagree with the Department’s position.  Despite the Department’s efforts to repudiate its JOC Manual and its goal of seeking cost saving by effectively carrying out the JOC program, we consider cost saving a valuable objective.  Accordingly, we reaffirm our recommendation.

The full text of the Department’s response is attached as an addendum to this report.