Created in 2018, ACE is a joint venture of the American Institute of Architects, Associated General Contractors, and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia, to educate and promote best practices of the design and construction industry.  What has resulted is an improved understanding of what makes projects successful from the perspective of all stakeholders, an intimate forum for business development, and an opportunity to learn about future projects. 

On October 14th, ACE held its rescheduled Joint Owner Forum with the Commonwealth’s Department of General Services (DGS). We were joined virtually by DGS Director, Joe Damico and Director of the Division of Engineering and Buildings (DEB), Mike Coppa to hear about the following:

  • Changes to the planning and construction funds in the current Appropriations Act as a result of the General Assembly Special Session
  • How the DEB has modified their operations to continue providing effective and timely services during the COVID-19 pandemic through EDR, virtual inspections and on-line interactive meetings
  • How DEB reviews and permits COVID-19 facility and operational changes to HVAC, plumbing, occupant load with a special (CO-13.3SPC) Certificate of Use and Occupancy
  • The Job Order Contract (JOC) methodology recently established

Below are highlights from the conversation:

  • All should check the Appropriations Act to see which capital appropriations remain
  • In the Budget Bill (HB30), the “Planning: Detail Planning for Capital Projects” line item was reduced from $11.4M to just over $1M during the General Assembly Special Session
  • Nothing in the House and Senate budgets, to date, have negatively impacted the 2020 VCBA Capital Construction Pool funding. However, it can be expected that the Governor would slow down this funding if deemed necessary for the financial health of the Commonwealth.
  • Expect a slow-down of CO-2 funding
  • An agency might move forward with a project with its own funding [and get reimbursed], but DPB has the final word. It seems that this occurs on a case-by-case basis.
  • Two projects look to be moving forward with DGS: the Supreme Court building and the VEC building
  • How A/E’s can help DGS with electronic submittals:
    • Submit 1 pdf for drawings
    • Submit 1 pdf for specs
    •  Utilize alpha-numeric indicators in labeling sheets
    • No duplicate sheet numbers
    • Don’t sign your sheets in Bluebeam software
    • Work closely with lead DEB reviewers with remote inspections – and be there
  • Joe indicated that discussions are ongoing about agency office space but cautioned his colleagues about making these types of decisions too quickly since there are cost ramifications.
  • Mike shared that there is an infectious aerosol paper that has been placed on the DGS website.
  • Communication between agencies and DEB is critical. The example given was the decision to take toilets out of service to assist with social distancing during COVID. How might that impact the occupant load allowed?
  • A/E partnerships must have agreements in place and must determine the sole entity that will contract with DGS. DGS must have a clear point of contact legally in these arrangements.
  • There is not a way to update all CO forms on a predictable basis since the Office of the Attorney General reviews these documents continuously.
  • May 1 – prevailing wages take effect which will likely impact project costs.