Fellowship Openings

Increasing Capital Project Efficiencies at Austin’s Airport

Project: Increasing Capital Project Efficiencies at Austin’s Airport

Agency: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Location: Austin, TX


 In 1999, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) replaced the Mueller Airport, an airport that was located downtown, landlocked, and had limited capacity, in light of the City of Austin’s growing population and popularity. AUS was originally built to accommodate 11 million passengers, utilizing the former military base’s large air capacities and high-tech gear. AUS is now one of the youngest yet largest airports in the US. Over the past five years, AUS has had a 9.5% growth rate, with up to 30,000 people traveling through the airport daily. In 2018 alone, AUS served 16 million passengers, with this figure only expected to exponentially grow in the coming years.

In order to respond to rapidly increasing travel volumes and demands for more flight capacity (i.e. gates) by airlines, a 2040 Master Plan for the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was released in late 2018. The plan was developed over 18 months and includes forecasting, demand capacity analysis, and alternative analysis and community involvement. With AUS expected to exceed 30 million annual passengers in the next 15 years, this plan will be key in leading and guiding AUS’s growth.

While implementing this 2040 Master Plan is only in its very initial stages, AUS’s expansion is a high priority for the City. AUS and related city departments expect to engage in a $2-$4 billion capital improvement program project for the addition of a new terminal which needs to be delivered in the next 5 to 10 years. While this expansion is ambitious, the City is determined to streamline its efforts by maintaining efficient workflows, manageable costs, and prioritizing the safety of those involved in the build and in the daily operations of the airport.

To further support these efforts, AUS and the Capital Projects Department will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level Fellow for one year who will help to reduce the time it takes to execute contracts and deliver planned projects. The fellow will analyze existing data on processes, propose improvements in the standard capital delivery work breakdown structure (WBS), and identify high-impact areas of improvement. Through the utilization of data, the fellow has the potential to cut capital project delivery by over 50%, saving the City millions of dollars and countless man hours.


The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.

Starting in April 2020, it is proposed that the Fellow will conduct a review of capital improvement program project procedures and processes, focusing on how AUS is supported and interacts with public works, permitting, and the capital contracting office. The ideal FUSE Fellow will have the ability to integrate quickly into AUS and its stakeholders, think strategically about how to organize and track processes and systems, and build on the Capital Improvement Program team’s desire to become inherently efficient.

As the Fellow analyzes workflow, process, and critical paths they will gather new and existing data to understand if stakeholders are optimizing resources. The Fellow will define project benchmarks and recommend solutions through a dashboard or report document, highlighting the data that supports changes to current project delivery structures and process. The fellow must successfully navigate various stakeholders’ hesitancies for change in order to successfully complete the timely and cost-efficient delivery of the AUS expansion.

The following responsibilities and anticipated outcomes are expected of a FUSE Fellow during the yearlong project:

  • Engage internal and external stakeholders and analyze feedback – Meet with a broad range of city staff members that interact on AUS capital improvement projects to better understand their perspectives, priorities, and concerns with regard to current process challenges and areas for improvement.
  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape of the Capital Improvement Program’s processes in relation to AUS– Review the implementation approach, division of duties, workload, and resource allocation involved in AUS capital improvement projects. Analyze existing data and systems, identifying the benchmarks and structure of current work breakdown. Identify challenges and barriers to successful, timely, and cost-effective delivery of AUS expansion projects given the current organizational structures and processes.
  • Prepare recommendations for process improvements and timelines for implementation – Draft a report and/or develop a dashboard that incorporates the data and analysis from the review. Report should highlight improvements to benchmarks, initiatives, timelines, and workflows. Recommendations should be clearly supported by data. This document/dashboard will serve as the guide to how AUS capital improvement project delivery and critical workflow paths will be shortened.
  • Create a roadmap for implementing process improvements and provide input on an integrated process for tracking existing and new systems – Identify and implement priority action items that can be accomplished within the year to streamline operations and set a path toward sustained improvement.
  • Map out each of the remaining workflows and process paths that should be redesigned, based on order of priority. Support the development and institutionalization of efficient structures through enhancement of existing AUS capital improvement project systems. Reinforce collaboration between agencies for the adoption of efficient project delivery.

Enhance the master bid/pay item list for AUS items tied to contract documents/specs– Review current City and AUS construction specifications and enhance the master bid/pay item list. Propose improvements to specifications for safety, quality and cost savings.


  • Gina Fiandaca, Assistant City Manager – Mobility, City of Austin
  • Brian Long, Capital Projects Systems Officer, City of Austin
  • Jacqueline Yaft, Executive Director of AUS, City of Austin
  • Rolando Fernandez, Capital Contracting Officer, City of Austin
  • Richard Mendoza, Director of Public Works, City of Austin
  • Denise Lucas, Director of the Department of Development Services, City of Austin


  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field; experience in Engineering, Finance, or IT is a plus.
  • Candidate should have deep project delivery or project management experience, experience with the Project Management Institute (e.g. having a PMP) is a plus.
  • Ability to become fully versed in data and workflow structures, with expertise in process improvement to structures and workflow.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise summaries and recommendations.
  • Ability to understand data and evidence and use it to support a business case, and make a persuasive argument to support recommendations.
  • Strong record of success engaging a variety of cross-sector stakeholders and managing cross- functional teams.
  • Experience with GIS software, specifically ESRI’s ArcGIS, would be helpful to rapidly understand the complexity of capital delivery within an active operating environment.
  • Familiarity in dealing with Project Management Professionals.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with ease in public presentations.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who is an independent worker, resourceful in creating novel solutions to complex problems, persistent in obtaining information, and able to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments.
  • Flexibility, adaptability, persistence, humility, inclusivity, and sensitivity to cultural differences.
  • Support and understanding of the strength of diversity, and the need for solutions to support all regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.