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The King County Courthouse Revitalization Project is a very large and risky capital project currently scoped to repair aging mechanical systems and make other priority improvements to the courthouse. Facilities Maintenance Division estimates this scope will cost over $150 million. We evaluated actions taken on the project to date and found that these actions might commit the county into one option without first thoroughly analyzing possible alternatives. Additionally, the County needs a plan to manage risks, since courthouse systems failures could impact the ability of the county to conduct business. We make recommendations aimed at providing decision-makers with information about viable alternatives addressing broader space planning issues for King County’s downtown campus facilities, and documenting plans for managing risks.

Status

Of the 5 recommendations:

DONE 1 Recommendations have been fully implemented. Auditor will no longer monitor.
PROGRESS 4 Recommendations are in progress or partially implemented. Auditor will continue to monitor.
OPEN 0 Recommendations remain unresolved. Auditor will continue to monitor.
CLOSED 0 Recommendation is no longer applicable. Auditor will no longer monitor.

Summary

This management letter provides an evaluation of actions taken on the King County Courthouse Revitalization Project to date and overall observations and recommendations about broader space planning issues for King County facilities.

Several mechanical systems in the King County Courthouse are old and failing, which means the County will face a critical decision about whether to spend over $100 million either to replace these systems or to pursue an alternative that might better meet its needs. The Courthouse Revitalization Project proposed by the Facilities Management Division (FMD) would repair aging mechanical systems and make other priority improvements, which could commit the county to one option without first thoroughly analyzing possible alternatives.

A more thorough analysis of alternatives to the Courthouse Revitalization Project is needed to ensure that the County does not make decisions that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars based on limited information. Additionally, the County needs a plan to manage risks while it is selecting and implementing an alternative, since courthouse systems failures could impact the ability of the county to conduct business.

Reports related to this audit

Audit team

Elise Garvey, Peter Heineccius, Tina Rogers, and Brooke Leary conducted this audit. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call the King County Auditor's Office at 206-477-1033 or contact us by email KCAO@kingcounty.gov.