Gannett-Fleming, the Clarke County School Board’s project management consultant for the new school, has offered a $307K cost reduction in exchange for providing reduced oversight during the school construction process. The Clarke County Board of Supervisors has tentatively agreed to allow the County’s Building Inspector, Gary Pope, to participate in oversight of the project and will waive charge-back fees for Pope’s services.
The cost savings stem from the School Board’s decision to substitute a general contractor for the building project in place of the originally envisioned use of multiple prime contractors. The new approach will shift much of the site management responsibility away from Gannett-Fleming to a yet-to-be-selected general contractor. The cost reduction offered by Gannett-Fleming is in response to a request by the School Board for a fee reduction commensurate with the changes in responsibility.
However, Joint Administrative Services Director Tom Judge reminded the School Board that the reduced fee meant that Gannett-Fleming’s involvement in the project will change.
“Gannett-Fleming is significantly reducing it’s oversight of the school. Instead of providing a senior engineer we’ll be getting a general construction manager. Senior management review from Gannett-Fleming will also be reduced. The School Board is replacing a Cadillac with a Chevy here.” Judge said.
The School Board hopes that much of the oversight responsibility deficit for the project will shift to County Building Inspector, Gary Pope. Pope is currently under-employed due to the Clarke County’s depressed housing market.
“The Board of Supervisors has tentatively agreed to allow [Pope] the latitude to be present at the construction site when he deems it necessary, in addition to his normal inspection times, to observe construction and alert our Construction Manager about any concerns that he may have,” School Board Chairperson Bouffault said in document that she presented to the School Board Monday evening.
Clarke County has indicated that it will not seek payment for Pope’s services from the School Board as was previously being considered. According to Bouffault the expense of using Pope’s services will be covered by approximately $150K in building fees already required by the County for the new school.
While Bouffault described Pope’s involvement as “a cost-free pair of experienced and qualified eyes to help identify and correct any problems before they become critical and [that] could cause delays and/or additional expense” Clarke County Supervisor Chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville) stopped short of fully endorsing Bouffault’s characterization of Pope’s involvement.
“We have an obligation and a duty to enforce the building codes. Beyond that we want to be sensitive to the School Board’s needs. Gary will be alert and helpful to the extent that be is able.” Hobert said that there is no formal contract for services between the School Board and the County.
In the event of future construction difficulties, Gannett-Fleming’s cost reduction offer (which was negotiated with Gannett-Fleming’s participation and agreement that its construction oversight responsibilities will be offset, in part, by a Clarke County employee) could open the door for future disputes about which organization is ultimately responsible for identifying contractual performance violations. The lack of a formal service agreement between the School Board and Clarke County could mean that some of the responsibility (and risk) formerly held by Gannett-Fleming has not been contractually transferred to any other party.
Whether the risks associated with reduced construction contract oversight services from Gannett-Fleming have been adequately addressed through the County’s offer of Mr. Pope’s services will be considered at the School Board’s May 5th meeting.
School Construction Notes: Helpful Info for Following the School Construction Bidding Process
As the School Board approaches its end-of-April goal for issuing school construction bid-documents Clarke Daily News readers may find it helpful to understand the terms and acronyms associated with the procurement process:
|A-232||General Conditions for the Construction Contract (also includes “Supplemental” conditions)|
|C-132||Agreement between School Board (Owner) and Construction Manager as Advisor|
|A-701||Instructions to Bidders|
|A-310||Bid Bond requirements (often a surety bond issued by an insurance company or a bank as financial guarantee that a contractor will enter into a contract if it is awarded to the firm)|
|A-312||Performance Bond requirements (often a surety bond issued by an insurance company or a bank to guarantee satisfactory completion of a project by a contractor)|
|Public Advertisement For Bids||Solicitation for proposals will be publically requested through multiple channels including Clarke County’s website and other media outlets|