Dormitory Authority of the State of New York
Westchester County

A Review of the Westchester County Courthouse Renovation and Construction Project

In October 1997, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) was hired by Westchester County to oversee the renovation of an existing 20-story courthouse and the construction of an annex to the courthouse. The project, which was prompted by the need to bring the Countyís court facilities into compliance with State standards for such facilities, was to be completed in June 2003 at an estimated cost of $140 million. However, the project fell four years behind schedule, went over budget and was expected to use up its funding before a major phase of the project, estimated to cost $47 million, could even be initiated. County officials, who were reluctant to provide any additional funding for the project, were informed by the Office of Court Administration that, if they did not provide the funding that was needed to complete the project by September 2003, the funding would be withheld from the Countyís State aid, as is permitted under State law. In response to a formal request from County legislators in May 2003, we conducted a fact-finding review to provide a fair and impartial description of the events that contributed to the projectís cost overruns.

We found that project costs exceeded their budget for several reasons. First and foremost, the $140 million project budget developed by DASNY and the County was not realistic for the work that was planned, especially since a number of changes were made in the design phase of the project that increased the amount of work that had to be done. These changes were made mainly because the amount of space needed in the newly renovated./constructed courthouse complex had been underestimated by the County. Once actual renovation and construction began, costs increased because of various delays, change orders and soil contamination at the construction site. We also found that, during the year 2000, before construction of the 260,000-square foot annex began, it had become clear that the project would probably cost significantly more than $140 million, but no action was taken to formally evaluate the options for increasing project funding or reducing the scope of the work.

For a complete copy of Report 2003-D-3 click here.