Launch Slideshow

Not-so-risky business

Not-so-risky business

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    Daniel Berman

    Built in the mid-1960s, the Factoria Transfer Station in Bellevue will be replaced with a larger and enclosed facility. The project’s expected to cost the King County (Wash.) Solid Waste Division $90 million.

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    Daniel Berman

    Rogers (left) and Hague at one of King County’s 10 transfer stations.

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    King County Dept. of Natural Resources and Parks

    Working in or near private right-of-ways is another major cost risk factor for seemingly straightforward projects like trail creation.

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    King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks

    To the layman, existing utilities are a straightforward aspect of construction. But they’re a potential complication that can greatly affect project cost.

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    Daniel Berman

    To lower the number of truck trips to and from the factility and improve payload efficiency, King County’s new Factoria Transfer Station will have a garbage compactor.

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    King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks

    If managed rigorously, legislators and constituents celebrate a project that was delivered as close to budget and deadline as expected.

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Numbers don’t tell the whole story

The risk score for each category is calculated using this formula: (1-5 points)2 X weight (1, 1.5, or 2) X pre-baseline adjustment (0.75). The project risk score is determined by adding the 15 scores.

The score isn’t applied blindly. Judgment is applied in the form of review by a joint advisory group, which is empowered (among other things) to move projects on or off the list of “high risk” projects. These projects then become subject to additional oversight requirements. There are times when a project is added to the list to ensure a particular agency is represented. This worked out well for a relatively low-scoring airport project that later encountered scheduling challenges. Heightened reporting requirements kept the council posted and aware that costs would not be affected.

It’s important to note that the intent is not to use risk scoring to cancel projects. That may happen, of course, as it can with any project. Rather, by identifying projects with a higher chance of going off the rails, legislators can make review a higher priority and mandate more rigorous management protocols.

Next page: Three major lessons learned