Project Governance for Capital Construction Projects

This policy outlines the University's guidelines for establishing roles and responsibilities of the project committees for all capital construction projects performed by Columbia University Facilities and Operations or its agents. These roles and responsibilities are established at the commencement of a project after initial University approval.  Refer to the Capital Approval Policy for levels and types of University approvals.

Reason(s) for the Policy

The project governance policy is established for capital construction projects to create a structure for clear and timely decision making during the various phases of a capital project. Adherence to this policy will avoid cost increases and construction delays resulting from late or changed decisions. 

At the outset of a project this policy will establish:

  • Types of committees including decision makers and stakeholders
  • Committee members
  • Roles and responsibilities of each committee
  • Meeting and reporting frequency
Primary Guidance To Which This Policy Responds


Who is Governed by This Policy

All University officers and staff who have a role in capital construction projects.

Who Should Know This Policy

Senior Executive Officers, Deans, Vice Presidents, Senior Administrative Officers, Departmental Administrators and staff who are working on capital construction projects for the University.

All University schools, departments and centers on the Morningside Heights Campus, Manhattanville Campus, Baker Field, Lamont Campus and Nevis Laboratories will establish a project governance plan with Columbia University Facilities and Operations for all capital construction projects.  The governance plan will be determined for the project once funding has been approved.  The plan will provide specific levels of committees and their levels of decision making as outlined below.  At the discretion of Columbia University Facilities and Operations, dollar approval levels may be established for project contingency and other actions.  Recommended committee members are indicated in Appendix.

Decision Makers and their roles:

Executive Committee - Provides overall cost, quality, scope of project and community strategy.  Also approves the governance structure, cost parameters (including project contingency management), schedule goals, program stacking arrangement and other fundamental goals.

Steering Committee - Provides oversight to ensure University goals and standards are met within parameters of project budget and schedule.  Monitors progress of the Project Team and provides guidance on specific decision points. Identifies issues and decisions points to elevate to Executive Committee and track progress of Project Team.

Project Team - Produces project deliverables, scope of work, program, design drawings, cost estimates and schedule updates.  Project Manager directs consultants and contractors to provide project deliverables in terms of scope, schedule and quality.   

Project Stakeholders and their roles:

Project Stakeholders - Provide pertinent input on cost, scope, and quality using the project team as liaison.  Meets in conjunction with project team on specific program or building issues.

Senior Managers and Staff - Provide detailed needs of users and validation of building design as project progresses.  Meets with project team and consultants to confirm program and room requirements.  Interfaces with department managers and staff.

CUFO Design & Compliance and Operations - Ensures University standards are met and provisions to maintain the building are established and delivered.   Ensures that University equipment standards are met. 

Community Liaisons - Provides guidance to project team and leadership on strategy to promote positive feedback in community. Coordinates and delivers community strategy, supports and tracks MWLBE utilizations.

Others - Promotes ADA compliance, sustainability, environmental abatement compliance, insurance limits, and other relevant standards and compliance which are to be applicable to the project.


Client - The client is the project sponsor - typically, the school, department, or center that requests and works with Columbia University Facilities and Operations to deliver the project. Usually the client is the ‘user' of the space to be improved/ constructed and ‘funds' the project. In those instances where the project sponsor is not the user or is not funding the project, it is incumbent on the project sponsor to secure support and approval from the other project constituencies as needed throughout the project delivery process. 


In order to initiate any capital project, including modifications to existing facilities or systems, a construction project request must be submitted online.

Project Governance Matrix