It's Time to Fix NYC's Capital Process
Over the past year both Mayor Adams and leaders in the City Council have recognized parks as critical infrastructure and voiced their commitment to increase expense funding for parks to 1% of NYC's budget. As we continue to push our elected officials on this investment in our city, we also have a unique opportunity to SAVE money while ensuring New Yorkers have access to and enjoy existing and new public assets faster.
We must finally fix the City’s broken capital construction process.
The capital process across agencies is in dire need of reform. From design to procurement to construction, NYC’s public process for funding crucial infrastructure improvements takes longer and costs exponentially more than it should. The average timeline to complete a typical park or library project is 7 to 8 years!
New Yorkers for Parks and Center for an Urban Future are proud to kick off a new campaign, Build Back Faster NYC. We’re calling on the Adams administration and the City Council to implement reforms that will help NYC reduce the average time it takes to build and repair infrastructure by 25% — or about two years per project.
Cutting the red tape in NYC’s capital process is a goal worth fighting for. The savings would top $800 million over the next five years. That’s enough to pay for 150 full-time parks workers, fund 1,300 miles of protected bike lanes, or clear nearly all the state-of-good-repair needs across the city’s three library systems.
How do we get there and what does reform look like?
CUF’s report, Stretching NYC’s Capital Dollars outlines a multitude of implementable reforms that can fix this issue. To jump start that process, we are calling for two immediate actions:
First, we want to see Mayor Adams call on all the agencies and entities with an oversight role in the capital process to deliver a strategic blueprint detailing steps to reduce project durations by 25%. That includes the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and City Law Department, along with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), the Department of Buildings (DOB), the Procurement Policy Board, the Comptroller, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and beyond. While recent improvements at DDC and DPR are encouraging, major progress can only be achieved with every agency at the table.
Second, we’re calling for the City council to flex its authority to enact change. The Finance, Contracts, and Oversight committees should organize a hearing that is focused on capital process inefficiencies across agencies and opportunities for change.
We’re going to need your help to make it all happen.
Now is the time for a recovery that’s not just bold but smart, to build back not only better but more efficiently. Please stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to get involved in this effort as we provide updates on our work and progress in the coming weeks.
Adam Ganser, Executive Director at New Yorkers for Parks
Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director at Center for an Urban Future