The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) Thursday discussed a proposal from commission member and Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Gary Mohr that would have OFCC join with the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) in looking at developing a master facilities plan for the state — particularly given the reduction and the expected continuing reduction in the state government workforce. Mohr commented that he believes that will result in the state’s having excess space in facilities that once housed management-level employees.
He also noted, saying it was from personal knowledge, that he believes efforts toward decentralizing management will also contribute to this phenomenon.
He said this plan would produce data about what the state will need in five years and what the state currently has in the way of facilities.
Mohr also suggested that the plan consider “legislative strategies” “to allow DAS greater authority to enter into agreements with the private sector” regarding those properties. Expounding on that approach, he said the state needs authority “to engage in public/private or private ventures to use the facilities.”
DAS Director Bob Blair, also an OFCC member, mentioned his office will purse the “leaseback” mechanism, adding that it is a tool his department needs to deal with state facilities because it ties the revenue to the facility. He said he has a specific building in mind that could be used as a pilot for the approach.
Blair added that Mohr’s assessment of the reduction in state workers is correct with the state workforce down 4,000 people.
Commission Executive Director Richard Hickman commented that agencies are reluctant to look at “shared facilities,” but added that the approach “keeps facility costs down but lets the agencies provide the same level of service.”
Mohr stressed that it is important to give DAS the authority to enter into agreements with the private sector with Blair responding that they are looking at that but running into legal questions regarding bonding issues.
Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Tim Keen, who was re-elected OFCC chair Thursday, said they will continue to look at the issue.
In other action, the commission heard a report from Craig Weise on the study required by 129-HB487 to look at OFCC’s role regarding capital projects of the Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Weise said an outside consultant did the study, recommending, among other items, that OFCC should provide project administration for ODNR projects, as the commission does for other state agencies with certain exceptions including roadway projects, which will stay with the Ohio Department of Transportation and dam repair, which will stay with ODNR. Other possible exceptions include projects funded with waterway safety funds and wildlife funds, although Hickman commented later that he foresees responsibility for those moving to OFCC once the staff gains experience in the areas.
Blair said he has talked with ODNR Director Jim Zehringer who said he was pleased with the discussions.
The commission also authorized the agency to pursue litigation against Poggemeyer Design Group and Mosser Construction regarding issues around the Toledo Correctional Institution that deal with “substantial defective work to the roof and precast wall panels … with such defects including defective design documents and work put in place by the contractors not in conformance with the design documents ….”