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City releases evaluation report of Capital Improvement Department

The City of El Paso has released the results of a long-awaited report examining the city’s Capital Improvement Department which includes short-term and long-term recommendations to improve the operation of the department and the delivery of projects.

The report, which was produced by the nationally recognized engineering firm of Freese and Nichols, was presented on Monday at a special meeting of the El Paso City Council. Freese and Nichols has undertaken similar program management assignments for cities across the state including Fort Worth, Bryan, and Tyler, as well as for the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The report can be read in its entirety by clicking HERE.

“This community has indicated its clear desire to invest in itself in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars in public infrastructure projects,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez. “We have seen some of these projects encounter difficulties; this analysis represents the City of El Paso’s commitment to take a hard look at the root causes of those difficulties and find real, meaningful solutions which will allow us to deliver the outstanding results El Pasoans deserve.”

The report points to several key factors which have limited the city’s ability to successfully deliver on some projects. The analysis found that the passage of the $473 million Quality of Life Bond Program and the $210 million street infrastructure plan caused the department’s workload to grow more rapidly than the department’s ability to keep up – both in terms of the volume and the complexity of projects. Passage of the voter-approved quality of life bonds and council-approved streets projects effectively doubled the value the city’s Capital Improvement Program, while staff grew by only a handful of employees.

“The analysis recommends implementing defined processes, improving communication across city departments and with key external stakeholders, and more effectively augmenting city staff with contracted architects and engineers during construction,” said Monica Lombraña, director of the City of El Paso’s Capital Improvement Department. “Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that we have the right people executing the right processes to deliver on the expectations of this community.”

Areas of concern include the following:

  • Planning and scheduling of projects,
  • How project budgets are established, and
  • How project scopes are established.

The report shares recommendations to help the department move forward. The report recommends evaluation of staffing and leadership within the Capital Improvement Department and utilization of a third-party to manage key programs.

Additionally, the report recommends implementation of new processes related to each of the following:

  • Project planning,
  • Communications with elected leadership, taxpayers and the news media, and
  • Project changes which are required after construction is underway.

To date, 33 Quality of Life projects have been completed citywide and 40 more are in progress. This study offers meaningful resources to the department’s employees to more effectively deliver future projects and realize El Pasoans’ investment in our community.

Author: City of El Paso

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