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MANAGEMENT UPDATE.

A CAPITAL PROJECT DASHBOARD PLAGUED WITH LIMITATIONS

It’s difficult enough for cities and states to deal with budget plans. But at least they typically only run for three years into the future. Things get somewhat more complicated when it comes to capital planning, which is a far longer-term process (many capital plans run for ten years or so). 


New York City has long had many delays and cost overruns on its projects and its reporting efforts and lack of transparency have contributed to the problems. In part as a result, the city is attempting to improve in this field with the addition of a dashboard, which is supposed to replace the prior system for tracking and monitoring capital projects.


But there’s nothing magical about dashboards, and New York City’s has been “plagued with similar limitations as its predecessor,” according to  an April report from the New York State Comptroller’s Office. .   


For example, as of early April, the city’s new dashboard had not been updated since September 2023 and “currently lacks details on initial project budgets and explanations for schedule delays that make it difficult to track progress.”



What’s more, many upcoming projects – including some very pricey ones – weren’t included in either the older system or the new dashboard. That includes, according to the comptroller, “City-funded projects undertaken by other entities, such as the School Construction Authority (SCA) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), as well as projects that are effectively for purchasing (such as equipment) or loans (such as for housing).”

Finally, project details that had missing in the past, continued to be absent from the dashboard. This includes details that would help it to “identify issues that lead to cost and schedule overruns.”


Soon after the New York State comptroller’s report appeared, the comptroller of New York City vigorously agreed and called upon the city’s executive branch to pay attention. As he wrote, “A dashboard is only as good as the data that powers it, and this one is already woefully out of date. It fails to include the details we need to see which projects and City agencies are behind schedule or overbudget. The Administration’s failure to update the dashboard or include all of the necessary information has rendered it even less useful than its soon-to-be phased out predecessor, the City’s Capital Projects Detailed Data.”


These shortcomings are of enormous consequence given the outrageous failure of the city to manage its capital projects in a timely way in the past.  In fact, according to the state comptroller, “A review of analyzed capital projects shows that more than 50 percent were over budget. These projects amounted to $54.5 billion more in spending than initially anticipated.” Even though this analysis period covered the onset of the pandemic which made project delays inevitable the numbers are still numbingly large. 


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MANAGEMENT UPDATE ARCHIVES.

UNCOVERING STUDIES IN THE NEWS

THE ACADEMIC GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS GAP

USING GENERATIVE AI FOR PUBLIC SAFETY

ADVOCATING FOR CITY MANAGERS: A NEW ORGANIZATION

PEWS FISCAL 50 HAS BEEN SUPERCHARGED

EQUALIZING THE PROCUREMENT PLAYING FIELD

HEAT KILLS SHOULDNT WE PAY MORE ATTENTION

REINVIGORATING PUBLIC SERVICE

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