SACRAMENTO – The Department of General Services (DGS) today released a report chronicling the department’s months-long operational review of the adequacy of the Division of the State Architect’s (DSA) office operations and procedures.  The office is responsible for the construction plan review and construction oversight of all K – 12 public schools and community college facilities statewide; ensuring that those buildings meet seismic and safety standards.

Shortly after his appointment in May, DGS Director Fred Klass directed the review after concerns were raised that thousands of school facilities have been occupied without being properly certified as compliant with the state’s seismic safety law – the Field Act.  Concerns also focused on DSA not providing proper oversight of construction activities and district-hired project inspectors.

“We can and must do a better job of documenting that public schools are in fact being built in compliance with established laws and regulations designed to ensure safety,” said DGS Director Klass.  “The fact that a school building has not been certified does not mean that it is unsafe.  However, it does mean that we don’t know whether or not it has been built to the state’s seismic and safety standards, and this is unacceptable.

“We’ve developed an action plan to address our shortcomings and look forward to working with local school districts that have a shared responsibility with us to guarantee safe classrooms and facilities for our children,” added Klass.

The action plan released today highlights steps DGS and DSA will take to:
1. Certify the more than 16,000 school construction projects that have not been certified as compliant with the Field Act.
2. Create more robust policies and processes to discourage school districts from occupying school facilities before they are certified.
3. Strengthen and enhance DSA oversight of large school construction projects, as well as its oversight and discipline of negligent school district-employed project inspectors.
4. Improve the certification process of school district-employed project inspectors.
5. Take administrative steps to improve the efficiency and timeliness of DSA operations.

Many of the actions identified in the review can be accomplished through policy and procedural changes over the next 12 months.  Other proposed statutory or regulatory changes will require consultation with key stakeholders and could take 12 to 18 months.

The Department of General Services acts as the business manager for the State of California. DGS helps state government better serve the public by providing services to state agencies including procurement and acquisition solutions, real estate management, leasing and design services, environmentally friendly transportation, and architectural oversight and funding for the construction of safe schools.