Private companies and large public agencies across the United States and throughout the world are routinely subjected to independent outside management audits.
However in the Bay Area such operational and managements analyses are rare……independent analyses even more so. Here’s what an independent management audit can do for a struggling public agency.
Organizational Policy-making, Management and Operations:
– Evaluate the experience and qualifications of those who sit on boards and commissions. Recommend ways of improving their effectiveness.
– Identify and clearly describe instances where aggressive real estate developers and other narrowly-focused outside parties are unduly influencing public policy decisions.
– Set up a process for ensuring that part time policy makers have access to the information they need to make wise decisions and otherwise do their jobs effectively…without overwhelming with irrelevant detail.
– Examine the management structure of the organization from top to bottom. Carefully review all organization charts, budgets, policy directives, accountability procedures, work rules, coordination protocols, etc. Recommend specific ways of improving efficiency, productivity, internal communication and general effectiveness. Cite specific instances of where changes in supervision or management are warranted.
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– Based upon a careful and detailed review of an agency’s capital improvement program, make specific recommendations as to what requires outside consultants and/or contractors and what can be done in-house.
– Evaluate the ways in which outside entities are selected and the methods used to oversee the work of designers and other consultants.
– Describe in detail how at least two successful large infrastructure projects have been managed. Identify the actions necessary to assure that capital improvement projects are defined and executed in accordance consistently high standards of efficiency and practicality. Based upon these successes, develop a detailed critical path flow chart showing how a project can be successfully scheduled and implemented. Here are some of the elements that can and often do delay major projects:
- Alternative Analysis/Feasibility Study: time from start of project to completion and approval.
- Conceptual design phase: time it should take to get the design approved and a necessary design consultant(s) on board.
- Preliminary engineering including the preliminary cost estimate: time including review and approval time.
- Time allowed for advance utility design, coordination and implementation.
- Time allowed for real estate negotiation and acquisition.
- Environmental clearance and relevant agency approvals (see below).
- Time allowed for final design including completion and final approval of the plans and specs.
- Time period allowed for purchase orders.
- Time allowed for Bidding/Award phase, including advertisement, receipt of bids, award of contract(s) and issuance of the Notice(s) to Proceed.
- Operational testing and start-up.
Show appropriate completion time ranges for each of above-listed categories leading to project final completion and revenue start-up dates. It is frustrating in the extreme to see a project that is routinely completed in 3 or 4 years elsewhere take between one and three decades to complete in the Bay Area.
Response to Contractor Claims and Requests for Information: Briefly describe how small, medium and large claims can be managed in a practical and effective manner.
Environmental impact Reports: For projects with costs of less than $5 million, $5 million – $100 million and $100 million – $1.5 billion, suggest appropriate total EIR costs, total number of days between Notice to Proceed and final EIR approval, including five weeks allowed for public and agency review, and size of document.
Conclusion: A completely independent outside management audit of several of the Bay Area’s large public transit agencies is long overdue.