Report 2011-116.1 Recommendation 3 Responses

Report 2011-116.1: Department of General Services: The Division of the State Architect Lacks Enforcement Authority and Has Weak Oversight Procedures, Increasing the Risk That School Construction Projects May Be Unsafe (Release Date: December 2011)

Recommendation #3 To: General Services, Department of

To ensure that it clearly justifies the reasons a project's noted issues merit a particular classification, the division should either modify its current policies regarding classifying types of uncertified projects or develop new policies, including requiring documentation of the rationale behind project-specific classifications. It should use its classifications to prioritize its efforts to follow up on uncertified projects based on risk and to better inform the public regarding the reasons it has not certified projects.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2013

In October 2013, DSA issued new written procedures related to the certification process for completed construction projects. The procedures provide a required and prescribed method for compliance with applicable regulations related to project certification. Upon substantial completion of a project or the project becomes occupied, DSA initiates a project certification process. In brief, after DSA examines the project file to determine that all documents required for certification have been received and that there is no evidence of unapproved construction documents, the project becomes certified or not certified.

If the project is not certified, the school district and the project's design professional are notified by letter and online of the reason(s) for that action. The reasons are categorized as follows: (1) the district has not submitted a final cost report; (2) the district has not paid all required fees; (3) the required project scope has not been constructed; (4) construction is not in compliance with approved construction documents; (5) final required reports have not been received; and, (6) the final required reports that have been submitted are unacceptable due to incomplete or incorrect content.

Upon a project being identified as not certified, DSA actively works with the district and design professional to resolve any outstanding issues that are preventing certification. As part of these efforts, DSA focuses its resources on higher risk uncertified projects, such as projects that have safety deficiencies.

Related to informing the public, the new procedures provide that the school district has 45 calendar days to resolve all outstanding certification issues. If not resolved in that timeline, DSA will post to its website the uncertified status of a project and the reason(s) the project has not been certified.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented

The division's new procedure establishes two categories, certified or not certified. When the division does not certify a project, it will complete a form listing the specific reasons why a project is not certified. This control addresses our recommendation, as it creates a record of the specific reasons for lack of certification and gives the division and the public the information necessary to assess the risk that an uncertified project could be unsafe. However, we have not audited the effectiveness of this new process.

1-Year Agency Response

In December 2012 the division conducted training for staff on changes to its procedures for project certification letters, which will be effective January 2013. In that training, the division outlined three certification letters it will use: one to indicate certified projects, a second to indicate projects not receiving certification because the division needs additional documentation, and a third to indicate projects not receiving certification because the division has noted deficiencies in the project. General Services said that for projects that cannot be certified due to missing documentation, the division will specify in its letter the required documents and the steps required to obtain certification. In addition, the division will no longer close project files for projects with outstanding noncompliance issues and will monitor the projects until these noncompliant conditions are resolved. General Services' response did not outline how the division would use these new classifications to prioritize follow-up efforts or inform the public. (See 2013-406, p. 40)

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Partially Implemented

All Recommendations in 2011-116.1

Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.