Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration is seeking two separate program managers to oversee the more than $1 billion MovEBR parishwide road improvement program.
In a much-anticipated advertisement published this morning, the administration issued two Requests for Qualifications for program management teams—one for the nearly $800 million worth of road widening and improvement projects; the other for the nearly $300 million of enhancement and beautification projects, such as the creation of sidewalks and planting of trees.
Director of Transportation and Development Fred Raiford, who oversaw the process of drafting the RFQs, says the decision to split the program management duties was made in an effort to get projects going more quickly.
“This will help move the projects through the process quicker,” he said in a text message response. “People will see the projects getting out sooner.”
But Raiford could not be reached by phone in time for publication this morning to explain in more detail exactly how having two management teams will be more, not less efficient, or to explain which of the two program managers will be in charge of prioritizing the dozens of projects on the list.
“Let’s say a dollar comes in for the program,” says one local engineer, whose firm will vie for one of the contracts and is puzzled by the bifurcated process. “Will that dollar go to program manager A and the projects in that batch? Or to program manager B?”
Also unclear is how two program managers will split the duties of branding and communication. With the Greenlight Program, for instance, a single website created by the city’s program manager was maintained and regularly updated with the progress of the various projects.
Both RFQs for the MovEBR program managers, however, include development and implementation of a “community relations and outreach plan and informational plan” as part of the scope of services.
Having two RFQs also means the city will have to negotiate two separate program management contracts, which is no small thing. As a single contract, the cost was estimated to be as much as $80 million.
Metro Council member Barbara Freiberg is among those concerned by the administration’s decision to seek two managers.
“You need one manager in charge of overseeing the entire project,” she says. “I’m also concerned about the coordination of efforts and potentially this could be more expensive.”