The State Architect’s Corner – Increasing Efficiency
In the previous edition of The State Architect’s Corner I hinted that in our ongoing effort to better serve school districts and community colleges, we would be addressing “bin time,” the period in which complete plan submittals must wait before being reviewed.
Although I am extremely pleased with the work of our staff to decrease this amount of time from an average of six to four weeks, I have always believed there is room to further reduce—if not altogether eliminate—bin time. And we have. I am pleased to inform you that “bin time” has been eliminated with the implementation of a much more efficient approach: The Project Submittal Appointment Process, which will take effect July 31, 2017.
Beginning July 31, clients will schedule project submittal dates six to eight weeks in advance of delivering project plans to the Division of the State Architect (DSA). The new appointment process allows design professionals to work on the project right up until the time of submission, thereby allowing for changes in scope and further refinement of the construction documents. Plans will no longer sit idle while waiting for DSA plan reviewer availability. I believe the scheduling system will also enhance the quality of submitted plans and significantly reduce the overall time spent on plan review.
With this change, DSA is once again demonstrating to our clients that we understand the importance of increasing the efficiency of project delivery and are committed to helping reduce delays and resulting cost increases due to inflation. Of course, most changes come with some growing pains. Although I wish it were not the case, I expect that we may encounter some minor implementation challenges as DSA staff and clients adjust to the process change. And I want to thank you in advance for your patience as we continue to implement improvements for our mutual benefit. When we implemented the DSA inspection card in 2013, the change may have seemed daunting to some. Yet the results of the inspection card speak for themselves—project certification rates rose from only 69 percent to almost 95 percent today. Similarly, I strongly believe that the positive outcomes of the appointment process will speak for themselves.
Further demonstrating our commitment to increase our efficiency, while meeting both the Governor’s Office’s and Department of General Services’ sustainable policies and goals by reducing the resource-intensive printing of construction documents submitted on paper, is the implementation of an Electronic Plan Review (EPR). Complimentary to our Electronic Back Check (EBC) process, which provides a method for electronic back check submission, review and approval of project documents, EPR is, at this time, a voluntary process for the electronic submission of plans for projects with an estimated construction cost of $1,000,000 or less. However, for projects with an estimated construction cost over $1,000,000 desiring EPR and/or EBC, you may contact the regional office structural supervisor for determination on a project-by-project basis if EPR/EBC is allowed based on office workload. I hope you share my enthusiasm for how these changes to how we do business will simplify how our clients do business, and for the efficiencies gained by all along the way.
Chester A. Widom, FAIA