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Facilities Planning

The Project Management System


Reference Guide #A.2

The project management system for obtaining approval of capital construction projects has been in effect since March 1986.  Every construction project submitted to the State Education Department for Commissioner's approval is assigned to a specific staff member from the Office of Facilities Planning (Facilities) who will act as "Project Manager." This means that one person will be responsible for monitoring the activity of each project from inception, through the initial review of preliminary plans, through review and approval of construction documents and the actual construction period, to the closing process of review and approval of the Final Building Project Report.

Thus far, the system is working smoothly. The number of projects approved each school year has increased since the implementation of the project management system: 1,579 in 1985/86 to 2,570 in 1988/89. So far this year, the pace of submissions is essentially the same as last year.

Reactions from school district personnel to a specifically assigned individual as a Project Manager for every proposed construction project have been, for the most part, favorable. There has been some concern raised by some school districts that are planning more than one project when they are assigned more than one Project Manager. This is not a problem and districts can be assured that the involvement of more than one Project Manager will not delay the approval process. 

To enter the design-build process, the Chief School Officer must send a Letter of Intent (LOI) to Carl Thurnau, Coordinator, Office of Facilities Planning, Room 1060 Education Building Annex, Albany, New York 12234. The LOI should be sent as soon as the district begins even thinking about a project, or projects, and, in any case, before the Board of Education takes any formal action(s). A LOI will not be accepted from anyone other than a school official.

Upon receipt of the LOI, a Project Manager will be assigned. Each identified project will be assigned a control number and each project will be classified as either a Type A or a Type B project.

Type A projects encompass reconstruction-type projects -- roofs, boilers, asbestos, etc. The district must give Facilities at least six months' notice of the intent to advance such a project.

Type B projects involve the construction or acquisition of new facilities, both new buildings, and additions. Facilities should be given a year to 18 months notice to advance such a project. A so-called temporary, portable, relocatable, mobile, trailer-type classroom is designated a "manufactured building," whether leased or purchased, and is a Type B project. All Type B projects must be consistent with a district's long-range facilities plan, which is required by Section 155.1 of the Commissioner's Regulations.

An initial contact letter, along with all necessary forms, will be sent by the Project Manager. Included with the initial packet will be an Instructional Guide for Obtaining a Building Permit and Approval of Plans and Specifications by the Commissioner of Education. This guideline outlines the specific exhibits that are absolutely necessary for a complete submission that meets the requirements of the law.

The guide also explains the Education Department's administration of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code. The major points of this administration include the Building Permit, which is issued at the time of approval of final plans and specifications, a Certificate of Substantial Completion by the architect/engineer near the end of construction, and a fire inspection at the completion of Type B construction, all of which will lead to a Certificate of Occupancy.

The cooperation of the field is, of course, necessary in order to continue to make this system successful. The most important steps that a school district or BOCES can follow to help the project management system operate effectively are:

  1. Know who your Project Manager is and communicate directly with that person whenever contact with Facilities regarding a project is required.
  2. Keep the Project Manager apprised of all significant changes in the project, such as funding or scope of the project.
  3. Record the project control number and project description on all documents sent to Facilities.
  4. Respond promptly to all requests for clarification or additional information regarding a project submittal.

Essentially, the Project Manager is your contact person in Albany, available to answer any questions you may have and to help facilitate and expedite the approval of plans and specifications when they are submitted later in the process.

The emphasis of the process is planning; planning on the part of both school districts and BOCES.