Kasich Proposal would Merge SAO with OSFC 

Part of the Kasich Administration’s Mid Biennium Review (MBR) Proposal, Sub. HB 487 would merge the State Architects Office (SAO) with the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) forming a new Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC). 

AIA Ohio was aware of the possible merger prior to the introduction of HB 487 and initiated a series of in-person meetings and conversations with OSFC Director, Rick Hickman, OSFC Construction Reform Program Director, Craig Weise AIA, State Architect, Lane Beougher, AIA, Senator Chris Widener, FAIA, his staff and other design and construction interests. These conversations are on going and address the Administration’s rationale for the merger as well as AIA Ohio’s desire to preserve the State Architect’s important roles and to maintain the talent, influence and visibility only architects can bring to the construction process.

These conversations are progressing while the Ohio House of Representatives is taking testimony on HB 487.  

During House Finance Committee hearings on the merger proposal, Budget Director Tim Keen testified that the merger would “reduce costs and align related authority and resources within a single, responsive commission with oversight responsibility for all state non-transportation construction.”  He said, “The impetus (for the merger) was the lack of an ongoing funding source for the state architect’s office.”  The just passed Capital Bill provided for no new buildings. 

Department of Administrative Services Director, Robert Blair, testified that “downsizing of state government has occurred under the leadership of both parties, partly due to budget constraints and partly due to the reality of doing more with less and that the new commission would combine most of state government vertical construction authority under a single entity with the authority to perform or administer all state facility construction, including schools.” 

OSFC Executive Director, Richard Hickman said the merger would:

1) Bring the major components of state construction under a single umbrella benefiting public owners and taxpayers,

2) Establish a centralized construction authority,

3) Create consistent, streamlined construction oversight,

4) Lead to financial efficiency,

5) Allow for the leveraged expertise and resources,

6) Deliver capital projects even more efficiently and effectively by consolidating the tremendous construction experience and expertise that resides in both the State Architect’s Office and the Ohio School Facilities Commission,

7) Allow the state to take full advantage of the collective knowledge of construction to deliver the best facilities to all public owners in a consistent and streamlined manner. 

The Associated General Contractors (AGC), the Buckeye Assn. of School Administrators, and ACEC Ohio also support the merger.  No state legislator from either party has appeared in opposition.

As for the future, once the bill passes the Ohio House, the Senate Finance Committee, Chaired by AIA Ohio Past President, Senator Chris Widener, FAIA is expected to add its input to the merger proposal. Senator Widener has substantial state construction experience, played a significant role in Ohio’s adoption of construction reform and likely will play a key role in what happens to the State Architect’s Office… and how much influence architects will bring to bear on Ohio’s built environment.

AIA Ohio will continue to provide updates on the proposed merger.