State Education Department

Facilities Planning Unit

Generally, construction projects undertaken by school districts are financed in part by State aid. This aid must be approved by the State Education Department's Facilities Planning Unit, which also reviews the detailed building plans for projects outside New York City to ensure that the plans comply with the State Building Code. We examined the procedures used by the Unit and found that while they do provide assurance that building plans comply with the Building Code, they are not intended to provide assurance that the plans are cost-effective. We identified several methods that could be used to provide such assurance. For example, a process called value engineering could be used to review the building plans. Value engineering has been shown to reduce construction costs by 5 to 20 percent; such savings would reduce State aid payments by at least $10 to $41 million a year. We also evaluated a proposal made by the Governor to transfer to local governments the Unit's responsibilities for reviewing school plans. We concluded that this proposal would not be cost-effective, as we estimated that the annual costs incurred by local governments in performing these responsibilities ($3.4 million) would far exceed the annual costs incurred by the Unit ($700,000).

For a complete copy of Report 96-D-4 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.