NYCHA audit reveals systemic deficiencies: report

March 15, 2012 03:30PM

An audit released today of the New York City Housing Authority’s infrastructure improvement program, called Construction Management/Build, indicates that senior NYCHA officials are not able to respond quickly enough to change orders at construction projects.

The report, released today, also shows other systemic deficiencies at the city agency, mostly due to the electronic tracking system the city uses. 

A NYCHA spokesperson respectfully disagreed with the audit’s findings, calling the delays cited in the report “overestimated,” in a statement prepared for The Real Deal. “Delays in construction and closeout have been attributed to other, very specific issues [not linked with the electronic tracking system], such as permitting, unanticipated changes to planned construction, etc.”

The CM/Build program was launched in 2003 to “to improve the quality of construction projects and ensure that they are administered effectively and efficiently,” according to a statement today from New York City Comptroller John Liu’s office, which performed the audit. The program has since dispersed $425 million in city funds to 10 contractors for capital improvement projects in the five boroughs.

The audit found deficiencies in the functioning of the electronic system, called Primavera, which NYCHA uses to track construction budgets, project schedules, change orders and payments. The main issues were an inability to monitor which change orders were causing delays in construction and senior officials not being properly informed on which projects were experiencing delays and why.

But the spokesperson said Primavera was not to blame. “The information that may or may not have been in Primavera had no impact on the performance of these projects and having this data in Primavera would not have resulted in shorter delays in either construction or closeout,” the statement said, adding that Primavera is the “industry standard.”

NYCHA’s senior officials “are hampered in their ability to adequately oversee CM/Build projects because of problems with obtaining accurate and complete information from the Primavera system,” the report says.

The report also notes that the full-time administrative staff that oversees CM/Build may not be necessary.

“If the Authority assigned its in-house staff to the project locations on a part-time basis, the authority could save $1,529,488 annually,” the report says.

NYCHA took issue with that finding as well, telling The Real Deal that during construction delays CM/Build “staff was reduced to appropriate levels,” in the statement. — Guelda Voien