Change Management in Large and Complex Civil Infrastructure Projects

District of Columbia Clean Rivers Project



By Stephen D. Lisse

DCCR Project Commercial Manager
McKissack and McKissack, Inc.

Virginia, USA



Change management is essential for any organization designing and constructing complex multi-million dollar civil infrastructure projects. The District of Columbia Clean Rivers Project change management plan uses the Primavera Contract Management Version 14 (CM14) system to identify, track, and manage Design-Build and Construction contract changes. This process starts at the early design stage and continues through construction and system startup on a divisional contract basis. This paper describes the step by step approach used in the DC Clean Rivers Project to manage changes at different stages of the project (design and construction/startup) on multiple contracts delivered by either the Design-Build or Design-Bid-Build approach. It also describes how trend analysis is used for updating the cost to completion.

Keywords:  change management, change order, work change directive, contingency, trend analysis, minor change.


This paper describes the approach to change management for a large and complex civil infrastructure program, namely the District of Columbia Clean Rivers (DCCR) Project.  It describes the scope and objectives of the change management effort, the methodologies and tools used throughout execution of the change management plan.

The key aspects of the project change management plan include:

  • Change Management Approach,
  • Change Log Updating and Management, and
  • Program Change Analysis of Cost and Schedule Impacts.

For this study, the definition of change is taken from Page 229 of Total Cost Management Framework (2012), “Changes are alterations or variations to the scope of work and/or any other approved or baseline project control plan (e.g., schedule, budget, resource plans, etc.).”


The DCCR Project is comprised of a system of tunnels for the Anacostia River, Rock Creek, Piney Branch and the Potomac River that will capture combined sewer flows for treatment at Blue Plains. About one-third of the district sewer system is a combined system and annual discharges into local waterway are estimated at 2 billion gallons. The Anacostia River receives 1.3 billion gallons, the Potomac River receives 640 million gal­lons and Rock Creek 50 million gallons of overflow each year.  The schedule for completing the Project is included in a Federal Court Consent Decree between the United States, the District Government and DC Water.

The Anacostia River Projects (ARP) include 12.8 miles (20.7 km) of deep tunnels with approximately 16 shafts, several pumping stations, and several river crossings. The Anacostia River Projects are broken into four main tunneling contracts. Geographically from south to north, these are the Blue Plains Tunnel (BPT), the Anacostia River Tunnel (ART), the Northeast Boundary Tunnel (NEBT), and the First Street Tunnel (FST).

Implementation of the ARP is divided into two phases.  Phase 1 of the Program includes the BPT, ART, and several diversion structures and is required to be completed by March 2018. Phase 2 of the Program, consisting of the NEBT and FST, along with the Potomac River and Rock Creek projects, must be completed by March 2025.

Project Delivery Method

DC Water regulations allow DCCR contracts to be procured by either using the traditional Design-Bid-Build (DBB) or the Design-Build (DB) with early contractor involvement (ECI). In December 2013, a hybrid delivery method that combines the traditional DBB approach and DB with ECI was added to the mix. Having these different project delivery methods available allows flexibility in project management requirements.

The twenty contract divisions representing the Anacostia River, Rock Creek and Potomac River Projects applicable to the DCCR change management approach are listed in Table 1.


To read entire paper, click here


How to cite this paper: Lisse, S. D. (2019). Change Management in Large and Complex Civil Infrastructure Projects:  District of Columbia Clean Rivers Project; PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue II (February). Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/pmwj79-Feb2019-Lisse-Change-Management-in-Large-Complex-Civil-Infrastructure-Projects.pdf


About the Author

Stephen D. Lisse

Virginia, USA





Stephen D. Lisse, P.E. is the DCCR Commercial Manager at McKissack and McKissack, Inc. and a PhD Student in the Industrial & Systems Engineering Department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The author enlisted in the US Navy in 1968 and was selected for the Navy Enlisted Scientific Education Program where he was awarded a BSME with Highest Distinction at Purdue University. He was designated a Surface Warfare Officer onboard USS MIDWAY CVA-41 and selected for lateral transfer to the Civil Engineer Corps. He had various public works and contracting assignments and also a tour as the Mobile Utilities Support Equipment Director. He returned to Purdue University under the Naval Postgraduate Education Program where he was designated a Purdue Fellow and received his MSME. Prior to retirement in 1988, he was a Special Assistant to the Navy Undersecretary for Safety and Survivability and implemented the Non Developmental Item process. He subsequently has over thirty years program/project management experience on large and complex integrated projects valued up to $6 billion. The author can be contacted at [email protected].

To learn more about the DC Clean Rivers Project, click here.