The High Cost of Modernizing the Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Jun 16, 2016 | A Blog Posts by Checked & Balanced

Did you know that the estimated costs for renovating the Duke Ellington School of the Arts more than doubled from 2012 to 2016? In Fiscal Year 2012, the project was estimated to cost $71 million. By FY 2016, the estimated costs were $178.2 million.

An ODCA audit (http://www.dcauditor.org/sites/default/files/DCA172016.pdf) revealed some of the reasons for the jump over time in the estimated costs for the project:

  • The District of Columbia Public School’s failure to finalize the educational specifications for the school before the Department of General Services (DGS) scheduled the project for funding;
  • DGS’s initial cost estimates did not take into account the costs required for a performing arts school;
  • DGS and its project manager for the school modernization projects, DC Partners for the Revitalization of Education Projects, LLC, did not include in the total estimated project costs the $6 million-plus that underground parking would cost at the school’s Georgetown location;
  • DGS used one project manager to oversee the entire school modernization portfolio even though selecting multiple project managers in a competitive environment could have helped control costs; and
  • Similarly, the process followed for this and other modernizations does not require competitive bids for construction, which might have served to control costs.

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