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Local Government and School Accountability

Capital Planning and Budgeting

A Tutorial for Local Government Officials

Module 3 - From Plans to Projects
Monitoring Project Implementation and Costs

The governing board is responsible for oversight and management of capital projects. As such, it is responsible for designing internal controls for:

  • Planning the project
  • Funding the project
  • Controlling costs
  • Determining charges made to the project are appropriate and accurate
  • Ensuring the project stays on schedule
  • Approving any amendments or change orders to the plan
  • Ensuring that financial records and other documentation are complete and accurate.

Regular project monitoring and reporting can make it easier for a municipality to handle these controls. The project plan is a key document used by the governing board to help monitor the project and should include performance measurement baselines for schedules and cost, major milestones, target dates, and risks associated with the project. Additional guidance on developing performance measures can be found at the Public Performance Measurement and Reporting Network.

A properly prepared budget is also an essential tool in the control of expenditures and evaluation of a capital project. The budget should be monitored and periodic progress reports should be prepared that include details such as the amounts originally budgeted, any authorized amendments, actual revenues and expenditures to date, and the balance of uncollected revenues and available appropriations. This practice will help ensure that funds are available for expenditures and that those expenditures are within the authorized amount.

Once a project is underway, regular meetings with contractors can help avoid delays and errors. Documentation of such meetings, as well as detailed reports of periodic visits and inspections of the project as it progresses, can be important factors in determining whether the municipality or the contractor is liable if problems occur. It can also be useful in securing approval for change orders.

  Next: Change Orders