Colorado’s new Judicial Center misses the mark, state auditor finds

The report found several deviations from standard real estate practices, including how construction requests are analyzed and how they’re monitored once they’re approved. For instance, the Department of Personnel & Administration didn’t prepare a project justification and analysis for a new $9.3 million parking garage near the capitol complex. Nor was the project reviewed by the Office of State Planning and Budgeting.

The plans for the parking garage also included no lifecycle costs — such as estimates for ongoing maintenance and repairs — beyond construction and financing.

The Judicial Center suffered some of the same problems. The report found that its project analysis included outdated assumptions about space needs for various departments. Many are now occupying more space than originally planned, leading to an increase in total annual rent expenditures of $1.2 million.

The problem, Colin said, comes from the fact that Colorado has no standardized or statutory guidelines for how construction projects are undertaken and the process varies from agency to agency.

“Colorado is very decentralized,” she said. “Because there’s not a standard process that every project has to follow, we found that there were inconsistencies in how they … reported what the total project cost was going to be and how they reported and estimated their cost savings.”

The state court administrator and the state architect did not return messages seeking comment.

But in the report, the judicial agencies agreed with the auditor’s recommendation to report annually on its expected cost savings to the Capital Development Committee and the Joint Budget Committee. It also agreed to report on unresolved building issues and to conduct a post mortem evaluation of the project.

Other agencies involved in reviewing capital construction projects have agreed to demand better and more complete information for future proposals.

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