In January of 2021, VDOT opened the new Cost Estimation Office. Their mission is to equip and enable VDOT personnel and assist business partners with leading cost estimating practices, philosophies, approaches, and tools.
The following are a few initiatives and accomplishments that the Cost Estimation Office has made over the past nine months of its existence.
- Cost Estimating Manual
The number one priority was the development of VDOT’s first Cost Estimating Manual (CEM). This manual (published August 2, 2021) was developed through a very collaborative effort involving the Districts, Central Office Divisions, Local Assistance and industry partners. This CEM represents a baseline of current VDOT estimating policies and practices while implementing a few new enhancements to estimating practices. The CEM can be accessed at https://www.virginiadot.org/business/manuals-default.asp#Cost. The CEM will need to be refined and updated moving forward, with the first update anticipated around the first of 2022.
- Estimating Tools, Technology & Systems
In May, the Cost Estimation Office assembled a statewide working group of subject matter experts on VDOT’s estimating tools and systems. This group is known as “Estimation TTS”. This statewide working group (SWG) is represented by all nine Districts, Central Office Divisions (including LAD, S&B, TMPD, and APD), and the consultant and contracting community. This group is charged with developing a technology roadmap to VDOT’s consistent estimating toolbox of the future. During this process, VDOT will be bringing consistency, and addressing some of the challenges and shortcomings within the existing estimating systems and tools; this endeavor will take time, patience, and perseverance.
VDOT is committed to addressing these challenges carefully, thoughtfully, and methodically. The SWG is comprised of some of the best and brightest estimating professionals in the Commonwealth, containing subject matter experts on programs, tools and systems that rely upon VDOT’s project cost estimates.
- Estimating Training – Current & Future
Since releasing the Cost Estimating Manual, VDOT’s top administration has traveled around the state and heard from many folks involved in VDOT’s project cost estimating. Based on their findings, there is a clear need for cost estimating training, on every estimating topic from “A” to “Z”. These requests include topics such as fundamentals of estimating, bid-based estimating and more advanced topics, including detailed cost-based and risk-based estimating. Additionally, they have also received several specific requests for training on the subject of conceptual / study level estimating. The following details where VDOT stands on their training efforts:
Currently Available Training
1. VDOT’s Cost Estimating Manual Overview
2. AASHTO’s New Cost Estimation Series
This new series is based on the AASHTO Practical Guide to Cost Estimating. The goal of AASHTO’s Cost Estimation courses is to improve consistency and accuracy of cost estimates regardless of when they are prepared in the project development process. This series includes an excellent course on conceptual estimating; the training is of high quality and aligns well with VDOT’s CEM and is highly recommended.
3. Cost Estimating Manual Chapters 4 and 7
Within Chapters 4 and 7, there are numerous hyperlinks to various trainings available, most of which are related to VDOT’s estimating tools, systems, and processes.
1. New Cost Estimate Workbook
VDOT is in the process of updating the Cost Estimate Workbook (CEWB) to synchronize with the new CEM. This updated CEWB will be accompanied by a user’s guide with detailed instructions (to be released soon).
2. Cost Estimating – 2-Day In-person Course (Winter 2022)
The Cost Estimation Office is preparing a two-day, in-person Cost Estimating Training Course to be offered around the Commonwealth in Winter 2022. VDOT is in the process of preparing the outline and course material. This course will be available to VDOT personnel, and some space will be reserved for their consultant partners and localities. If you have specific topics you would like to see incorporated, please reach out to VTCA’s Jeff Bragdon (email@example.com). The dates and logistics of these courses will be coordinated with each District’s Project Development Engineer.
The Cost Estimation Office has also received requests specific to the upcoming Smart Scale – Round 5. At this time, VDOT has not planned or prepared for training specific to a particular funding application program; however, the above-referenced training should prove to be useful to those preparing estimates for funding applications.