Capital Projects Database

Case study

The Budget & Capital Resources (BCR) department within the UC Office of the President (UCOP) supports UC campus operations and capital programs in a variety of functions. These functions generate a significant quantity of data in the areas of space management; construction budgets and schedules; space allocation and utilization; as well as energy usage and sustainability. Currently, this information is collected in disparate databases of varying quality.

To best support UC programs, it is critical to improve the quality of the data; streamline data input so campuses are not requested for duplicate information; improve the connectivity between databases to leverage data and its analysis; and improve reporting capabilities to optimize assessment tools that will enable the University to evaluate existing programs and strategize for future programs.

The primary goal is to implement an integrated comprehensive data management system to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies in capital program planning, monitoring, assessment, and reporting. A secondary goal is to maximize the opportunities for direct input of data by campuses with review and verification as needed at UCOP in order to reduce duplicative effort and redundancy.

A capital data system, integrated with existing corporate/campus systems, would reduce duplication of effort, facilitate automated data population, leverage common data links and information across information systems, and improve quality of data. This will enhance information exchange across the organization and elevate planning and reporting capabilities for capital programs.

Plans include linking integrated data management to UCOP Capital Markets Finance databases for bond data by project/facility. Such data linking will address and facilitate current significant UCOP and campus compliance efforts. Future applications may include development of space utilization standards.

The recent assemblage of capital program-related functions (capital / physical / environmental planning, design, construction, real estate, facilities management, and sustainability) within a single UCOP department reporting to the Vice President of Budget & Capital Resources has improved management and coordination of these functions. Stakeholders within UCOP and at the campuses have commended the benefits they have received as a result of more consistent communication and direction.

The unified department has scored some quick wins in information management, including the successful development of a “one-stop” for capital project information (known as the “capital projects web portal”), and a rudimentary data system to collect information for both the annual reporting to the Regents and the quarterly reporting to the State (“capital projects database”).

A comprehensive integrated data management system is the next logical step in this process to develop the information infrastructure necessary to support the coordinated functions.

While there are many challenges associated with this project, the most difficult one will be devising web-based systems, wholly accessible to campus and UCOP stakeholders, with data integrity (no duplication, checks and balances, etc.). Other challenges include phasing the implementation to facilitate early success, appropriate span of functionality at each phase, and ease of incorporating additional modules.

Another challenge will be locating historical data in legacy systems, and achieving consensus among the users of those systems in migrating the data to the new integrated system.

Initial investment
The Data Advancement project has not been scoped or estimated at this time. BCR is working with the Office of Risk Services’ Enterprise Risk Management Information System (ERMIS) to establish project parameters. There will be significant investments of BCR staff time, programming costs, development, and ongoing system maintenance.

Fiscal results, current and anticipated
Estimates for savings from implementation of the Budget & Capital Data Advancement project will be developed after the scope of the project (and elimination of redundant systems) is determined. OPRS will be able to leverage the data to ensure that we are able to obtain improved insurance coverage terms at the best price. Savings will include reduction of manual data input; limiting duplication of effort in data preparation by UCOP and campuses; and significant savings of staff time by automating periodic reports. More difficult to estimate, but perhaps even more significant, are the cost savings accruing to capital planning as a result of better and more easily accessible information.

Current action and next steps
BCR has initiated discussions with the ERMIS team within UCOP’s Office of Risk Services to coordinate database development in these areas. Initial steps will include developing project scope, identifying legacy systems and data banks, and determining budget and schedule for project.
Concluding statement
In addition to realizing near-term cost savings, implementation of a modern, robust system will allow better analysis of data and trends, creating opportunities for other efficiencies. Collectively, such efficiencies will contribute to the vision of effective, streamlined administrative practices across the University of California system.