Architect of the Capitol: Addressing Staffing and Training Issues Is Important for Efficient and Safe West Refrigeration Plant Operations

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The West Refrigeration Plant Expansion (WRPE) project is the centerpiece of an effort to expand the capacity of the Capitol Power Plant (CPP) to meet the U.S. Capitol's growing heating and cooling needs and to update plant equipment, some of which dates to the 1950s. CPP generates steam and chilled water to provide heating and cooling for the Capitol and 23 surrounding facilities that, together, encompass about 16 million square feet of space. CPP will also serve the 580,000-square-foot Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), which is under construction. When ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. February 10, 2006.

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The West Refrigeration Plant Expansion (WRPE) project is the centerpiece of an effort to expand the capacity of the Capitol Power Plant (CPP) to meet the U.S. Capitol's growing heating and cooling needs and to update plant equipment, some of which dates to the 1950s. CPP generates steam and chilled water to provide heating and cooling for the Capitol and 23 surrounding facilities that, together, encompass about 16 million square feet of space. CPP will also serve the 580,000-square-foot Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), which is under construction. When completed, the WRPE project will increase CPP's chilled water production capacity by about 23 percent and enable central operation of CPP's chillers. The WRPE construction contract was awarded in March 2003, work is ongoing, and the project is now scheduled for completion in March 2006. Future contract changes may, however, extend this date to June 2006. The budget for the WRPE project and associated administrative expenses is $81.7 million. Several modifications have been made to the WRPE contract to incorporate other capital improvements at CPP. The budget for these modifications is $19.2 million, bringing the total budget for the base WRPE project and related projects to $100.9 million. For clarity, we refer in this report to the base WRPE project and related projects collectively as the WRPE project. The Architect of the Capitol (AOC), who manages CPP, is responsible for commissioning the new West Refrigeration Plant equipment. According to the General Services Administration (GSA), which provides guidance to federal agencies on managing their facilities, commissioning is a systematic process to ensure, by verification and documentation, that all of a facility's systems perform interactively as designed and intended to meet the owner's operational needs. AOC and its contractors are carrying out the commissioning process, including a three-stage plan prepared by the construction contractor for testing the performance of the new WRPE equipment. AOC is also responsible for ensuring that CPP is staffed efficiently and that CPP personnel have the knowledge and skills to operate the plant safely. Over the years, we have reported on AOC's management of CPP several times and made recommendations for improvement. Our most recent report, issued in April 2005, included recommendations on CPP's staffing. As requested, this report updates our prior work and evaluates AOC's (1) commissioning activities to date and plans for commissioning the new equipment without disrupting current operations and (2) plans for staffing the modernized power plant efficiently and ensuring that CPP personnel are trained to operate it safely. In addition, the report estimates the costs to complete the WRPE project, taking into account the possible effects of anticipated contract changes, operational issues, and other challenges to a timely and successful startup."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • February 10, 2006

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Architect of the Capitol: Addressing Staffing and Training Issues Is Important for Efficient and Safe West Refrigeration Plant Operations, text, February 10, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298876/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.