After reading Valerie Russ’s article on the Martin Luther King center for seniors sitting empty, I can’t believe how the city has returned to doing capital projects as it did over 20 years ago. The problem then, and apparently again, is that too many departments are involved in the pieces of the project and no one department is in charge. In 1996 Mayor Ed Rendell created the Capital Program Office (CPO) for this very purpose and Mayor John Street continued this policy. For over 12 years the CPO managed hundreds of projects, coordinating every aspect from the initial concept to move-in. CPO answered questions and attended meetings with the mayor’s office, City Council, and community leaders, and resolved problems between contractors and the other city departments. More times than not, the projects came in on time and budget. Unfortunately, Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration didn’t see the need for this efficiency and decided to dissolve the CPO and revert to allowing each department to do their own thing. I’m sure Mayor Kenney, who was a councilman at the time, remembers how capital projects can and should be handled. Government can and should do things better.
— Richard Tustin, Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org