Monday, February 9, 2015

Seminar - Lessons Learned from the White House Reconstruction Project

Barely Avoiding Disaster
Lessons Learned from the White House 
Reconstruction Project
During Harry Truman's Presidency

When and Where:
  •  April 21, 2015 (3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
    • Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Seattle, WA
    • Sponsored by Puget Sound Chapter CSI (Construction Specifications Institute)
  •  May 7, 2015 (time to be determined)
    • Spokane Convention Center, Spokane, WA
    • Sponsored by WASBO (Washington Association of School Business Officials)
Speaker:  Mike Purdy 

Description:  The groaning and creaking of the White House that Harry Truman thought were ghosts of previous Presidents haunting the famous residence turned out to be the complete failing of the interior beams and walls of the building that had been rebuilt after it was burned by the British in 1814.  Had action not been taken in the 1950s to gut and rebuild the entire interior of the building, it is likely that it would have collapsed in on itself bringing down the sandstone exterior walls as well.

Rebuilding the Interior of the White House
One would expect that a renovation project of this politically and historically significant home would have been an orderly and well managed project that would be completed on budget and on time.

The opposite was true, and the project was fraught with a host of problems including:
  • Political feuding about design and budget
  • An arbitrary contractor pre-qualification process that resulted in a low bid that was shockingly low
  • Significant delays in the architect producing drawings for the contractor
  • Change orders that busted the congressionally authorized budget and required the President to plead for more funds
  • Delays in schedule
  • Inadequate staffing of the project
  • A labor strike
  • And more...
The White House reconstruction project serves as a helpful reminder of how not to manage a public works construction project, and in the process teaches us a number of important lessons.

Presidential History:
  • Presidential History Blog:   While I will discontinue writing this Public Contracting Blog on March 5, 2015, you can sign up for a free email subscription to my Presidential History Blog at www.PresidentialHistory.comOn a case-by-case basis, I will only be accepting limited consulting and training opportunities after March 5, 2015.
  • Presidential History News:  Be sure to watch my 6 minute video at in which I report "live" on the election returns for the 1916 presidential election between Woodrow Wilson and Charles Evans Hughes.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2015 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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