Managing Public Construction Projects

Construction Site

How Do I Manage a Project?

Why do some public construction projects succeed and others fail?  What lessons can we learn from the projects with good and bad outcomes?  How can we avoid repeating others' mistakes?

With public projects, the people responsible for conceptualizing, approving and managing the construction process often have little or no previous experience with construction, much less with multi-million-dollar projects.  Elected and appointed officials are often unwilling to acknowledge their lack of expertise, and instead plow forward with projects that have major potential defects—or at the very least, that have not been fully considered and optimized.  The general lack of prior experience that many public officials have, when properly acknowledged, can be a great asset, rather than a significant detriment.  How is that so?  When you come into a project without the burden of prior assumptions based on previous project experience, you can re-envision what a successful project should be, and what your goals should be.   


What are the Warnings I Should Heed?

Through over 15 years of experience as a municipal attorney, I've worked through some great projects and some terrible failures.  I’ve seen some project horror stories arise, and have often been involved in them after the fact, in harsh, combative litigation.  As I've transitioned into work as a municipal attorney and a municipal manager, I searched out some of the highest profile success stories and some of the worst failures in public construction projects.  I spoke with professionals involved in every aspect of public construction, including design, financing, construction and inspection, and gathered their thoughts and recommendations.

I wrote this book for the benefit of both experienced and inexperienced public officials alike.  It is written for elected officials, for appointed officials and for staff who are charged with bringing a public project from concept to reality.  Many of the points discussed are equally applicable to private construction, but we focus primarily on public construction and its intricacies because it is the public projects that are often headed up by less experienced project managers.

Construction Signs
Construction Project

Managing Public Construction Projects

  • Learn how to conceptualize your project to ensure it meets your needs, and goals.

  • Learn how to build--and retain--support for your project.

  • Learn how to evaluate different delivery methods and whether they are right for you.

  • Learn how to understand what your contracts say, and how to get what you want.

  • Learn the practical steps necessary to build, supervise, and complete your project.

  • Find the pitfalls that others have stumbled into, and learn how to avoid them!