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Capital Projects

Planning and delivering capital projects within scope, on schedule and budget, and through a lens of equity and social responsibility 
The City of Seattle is committed to adopting industry standard best practices in the planning and design of capital projects across all departments.  Part of this work is increasing the oversight and coordination of large, complex capital projects with the goal of reducing cost overruns and delivering promised results. We look to improve Seattle's effectiveness in delivering large capital projects involving multiple departments, increase the accuracy of capital project budget estimation, and support all departments by using rigorous project delivery methods.  We also recognize that capital investments brings an opportunity to further the City’s commitment to racial justice and social equity, by working to minimize construction impacts on neighborhoods and communities, and hiring and including women, people of color, and those living in economically distressed areas in construction trades. 
“When I took office, I made a promise to Seattle: That I would act urgently to make sure we use our resources wisely and build a city that centers community, looks to the future and continues to create opportunity for our young people.”
-Mayor Durkan

Deliver capital projects effectively

What we track: Percentage of projects projecting their total project cost to be ‘on- budget’
Why is this important?
The City of Seattle owns and operates a variety of physical assets, including community parks, roadways, bridges, office buildings, libraries, open space, fire stations, maintenance yards, facilities at Seattle Center, and more. City utility infrastructure projects include electric, solid waste, water, and wastewater utility assets. The City must properly maintain these assets in order to ensure they are safe, robust, and provide a welcoming and usable space for all of Seattle’s residents.  In the process of developing and maintaining these assets, Seattle is looking to increase the accuracy of capital project budget estimation, communicate the relative uncertainty of project budgets, and support all departments in using rigorous project delivery methods as part of our accountability efforts to taxpayers.  
Hover over each bar to see the percent of capital projects that are 'on-budget' for the quarter
How we measure:
This measure tracks the performance of capital projects named in the Watch List described in resolution 31866.  These Watch List capital projects are  large, complex, discrete capital projects that will require enhanced quarterly monitoring for the 2019 calendar year.  Discrete refers to projects that have a specific scope and timeline (e.g. new community center) versus regular capital maintenance programs (e.g. replacing roofs or paving streets). There are about 250 discrete projects as part of the Watch List.   
Definition of terms used in the Watch List table:
  • Adopted CIP: This is the budget that was included in the 2019-2024 Adopted Capital Improvement Program, and what was displayed on the Project Page in the Budget document. Project budgets may be updated as amendments pass through City Council.
  • Spending Projection: This is the amount the department is forecasting they will spend over the total life of the project as estimated in the current reporting period.
  • Variance to last report (Over/(Under)): This is the variance between last quarter's spending projection and the current spending projection.
  • Variance to Adopted CIP (Over/(Under)): This is the variance between the Adopted CIP amount and the spending projection.
  • On-budget: Projects are considered 'on-budget' when the variance between the Adopted CIP amount and the Spending Projection is zero or below.
  • Percent of capital projects on-budget: This percent is the number of projects projecting spending to be on-budget divided by the total number of projects.  
What progress are we making?
The City Budget Office (CBO) has been working to create consistent, uniform, and timely project status reporting across all departments. Recently, CBO has committed to prospective rather than retrospective reporting. As such, new definitions for project stages have been created and can be found in the Readers Guide to the 2019-2024 Proposed Capital Improvement ProgramFor new projects that come into the CIP and are included as Watch List projects one of the main milestones is now 30% Design.  30% Design includes the initial Engineer's Estimate or original Baseline for the Total Project Cost and is now used to provide a benchmark from which to measure project cost and scope adjustments.   In collaboration with the Council, the City continues to refine and improve the way we identify, estimate, and review project costs to improve reporting and oversight.
The above measure summarizes data captured in a new series of capital reports called the Watch List adopted by resolution 31866 in early 2019.  These reports evaluate discrete projects described in resolution 31866 on scope, schedule, and budget and are sent to Council central staff eight weeks after the end of the quarter.  

Increase economic opportunity through construction hiring

What we track: Percentage of annual Priority Hire hours worked by residents living in economically distressed ZIP codes on specific projects as part of City of Seattle's community workforce agreement 
Why is this important?
The City’s own spending on major capital investments can help drive employment within the local economy. Construction offers living-wage jobs that can support individuals and families. Seattle’s Priority Hire program promotes the hiring of women, People of Color, and residents from economically distressed neighborhoods of Seattle and King County to work on City construction projects over $5 million. The City’s Priority Hire program provides training and opportunities for these vulnerable communities.

Hover over each bar to see the percent of Priority Hire hours worked
How we measure:
This data measures the percentage of annual Priority Hire hours worked by residents living in economically distressed ZIP codes. Hiring goals and requirements are implemented in collaboration with labor unions, contractors, and community partners through a master community workforce agreement (CWA). Hours are counted from active and completed projects that were covered by the CWA between late 2013 and the end of 2020. There are 31 ZIP codes in King County that are considered economically distressed, of which 16 are in Seattle. For more information on the program, ZIP codes, and projects that are part of these numbers, please reference www.seattle.gov/priorityhire.
What progress are we making?
Workers from economically distressed areas more than doubled their share of hours, from 12 percent before Priority Hire to 26 percent on CWA projects through 2020. Workers living in economically distressed ZIP codes had a significant increase in the share of hours on CWA projects – up 117% from before Priority Hire. These workers brought home $10 million more in wages than they would have earned without Priority Hire.
One noteworthy development resulting from an Executive Order in 2017 (2017-01) is the application of Priority Hire/CWA on certain public-private partnership projects in addition to City of Seattle owned projects.  As a result, Seattle has applied priority hire/CWA, along with other social equity provisions (such as Women and Minority Owned Business (WMBE) and prevailing wage) to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and Arena at Seattle Center projects.