Frequently asked questions about the regents' process
This site is designed to improve understanding of the process for preparing items for Regental approval.
- What is a Regent's Item?
- Does my project/real estate transaction have to go to the regents for approval?
- When are Regents’ Items due?
- How can I assure timely review of my item?
- Does CEQA apply to my project/transaction?
- Will the CEQA process delay my project/transaction?
- When is design graphic material required and what needs to be submitted?
- Why does CRM request supporting information beyond the information included in the item?
- What are the most common questions asked by the regents?
What is a Regent's Item?
Many Capital Projects and Real Estate transactions require one or more approvals by the Regents, or by their delegates depending on the characteristics of that project/transaction. Campuses prepare the draft proposals (aka “Regents’ Items”) for these approvals and route them to Capital Resources Management (CRM) at UC Office of the President (UCOP).
The campuses are requesting, in essence, that the President (UCOP) support a recommendation to the regents to accept the item for consideration and approval. Items routed to CRM are thoroughly reviewed to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and UC policy. These are described in additional FAQs below.
Does my project/real estate transaction have to go to the regents for approval?
The regents have the ultimate authority to approve capital projects and real estate transactions as provided in the Bylaws and further articulated in Regents’ Policies. The Standing Orders confer authority to the President and to campus/laboratory/OP officials via delegations of authority.
Types of approvals and applicable thresholds are summarized on CRM’s capital projects web portal along with more specific approval matrices (pdf) for capital projects and real estate transactions (pdf).
The Regents’ Committee on Grounds and Buildings considers all land use and capital project-related Items and recommends action to the full Board. The Committee on Finance considers all real estate transactions. By Regents’ policy, urgent matters requiring Regents’ action between regularly scheduled meetings can be approved via Interim Action. Standing Orders allow the President to act, in Concurrence with the Regent(s), on capital project budget approvals, real estate transactions, and financing based on certain thresholds and conditions. Under Presidential Authority, the President may approve capital project budgets, design (and related CEQA actions), minor long-range development plan amendments, real estate transactions, and financing.
Finally, under specific delegations to the EVP-Business Operations and EVP-Chief Financial Officer, these officials have Administrative Authority to approve certain transactions that fall within the President’s authority. The Chancellors have restricted authority for capital project actions, such as budget, design and associated CEQA, and real estate transactions (leases, licenses and easements), per explicit terms and conditions noted in formal delegations. Chancellors do not have authority for real estate acquisitions/dispositions, financing, or long-range development plan amendments.
When are Regents’ Items due?
Please refer to the Regents Item Submission Schedule (pdf).
How can I assure timely review of my item?
Capital Projects may require multiple approvals, at various levels. A project may require a real estate transaction as well as budget and design approval. Where there are potentially multiple approvals over time, UCOP recommends that campuses consult early with Capital Planning, Design Services, PEP and OCG to define an “approval map” to identify the approvals needed, the appropriate approval levels, and the sequence of approvals.
Including future items on the Look Ahead List gives the campuses and CRM the opportunity to be ready to address any issues early. Submitting a complete package will also ensure a timely review.
Does CEQA apply to my project/transaction?
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) applies to capital projects and real estate transactions that may have a direct or indirect affect on the physical environment. The timing of the CEQA evaluation is determined by the approval that constitutes the irrevocable commitment to the project.
A “project,” as defined in CEQA, is the “whole of an action.” This may be a building project and all associated activities—e.g., demolition of existing structures on the site, construction of surge projects, utility extensions, relocations of existing occupants, landscaping, fit out and occupancy of shelled space, etc. These project components may have separate budgets and/or plant accounts, but for adequate CEQA analysis, they still must be considered one project.
CEQA documentation is considered and a determination is made by the UC decision maker most typically in concert with and support of UC design approval; a CEQA determination is never made on its own. CEQA requires that documentation of the potential environmental effects of a project be considered by the project decision maker at the time an “irrevocable commitment” to the project is made. Within the UC system, the DESIGN approval has been determined to be the “irrevocable commitment” to the project; the BUDGET approval is never considered to be the irrevocable commitment.
CEQA requires that the environmental impacts be considered at the point in a project’s development when there is adequate project description information to analyze, but it is still early enough that changes can be made to the project to reduce environmental impacts. This point is generally considered to be around the completion of the schematic design phase, following which Design Approval occurs for most projects. If a project is of a type that does not require Regental, Administrative (i.e., Presidential), or perhaps even campus Design Review Committee approval, the CEQA action still must support a design-related approval action. In this case the campus may have the CEQA action support approval/acceptance of the project’s schematic design. When in doubt, call CRM—early! [See also Q6]
Will the CEQA process delay my project/transaction?
Not if you plan ahead. The first thing to do is to identify which decision is the “irrevocable commitment” to the project. Consult with the campus environmental planner and Capital Resources Management (CRM) at UCOP.
Start early. CEQA requires that the environmental impacts be considered at the point in a project’s development when there is adequate project description information to analyze, but still early enough that changes can be made to the project to reduce environmental impacts.
Within the UC system, the DESIGN approval has been determined to be the “irrevocable commitment” to the project. Budget approval is never the project’s CEQA decision point even if, as is often the case, design approval is done at the same time. If a project does not require Regental design approval, per Standing Orders Regents’ Policy 8102, or Delegation of Authority 2575 (DA2575) the design approval is delegated to either the President or Chancellor, who is then responsible for reviewing and considering the CEQA documents at the time of his or her decision [See Q5].
Real Estate transactions are also subject to CEQA; the timing of the CEQA evaluation is determined by the real estate approval that constitutes the irrevocable commitment to the project. Again, consult with the campus environmental planner and CRM.
When is design graphic material required and what needs to be submitted?
Please refer to the Design Graphic Package Guidelines for the Committee on Grounds and Buildings (pdf) for details on the requirements.
Why does CRM request supporting information beyond the information included in the item?
CRM prepares items to ensure the best success in gaining approvals. We recommend complete items to the Executive Vice President of Business Operations. In turn, he recommends items to the President, and onward to the Regents.
CRM staff needs to be able to respond to any questions the Executive Vice President and the President may have regarding each item. CRM may request additional information from campuses in anticipation of these questions. While the questions can encompass any topic, we note trends from previous queries from senior management and the Regents to best prepare the item.
What are the most common questions asked by the regents?
In 2011-12, the most common questions pertain to the cost of projects and the fund source for projects. For example, related to cost, there are consistent questions regarding: preparation of a Business Case Analysis to support project and scope; construction costs for projects; comparative costs (“comps”) of similar types of projects (including size of contingency, professional fees, etc.); and detailed and defensible reasons for augmentations.
Issues related to sources of funding are currently a discussion point given the ongoing scarcity of funding at this time. Questions arise from a variety of sources, including the public, on whether any source of funds could be re-directed to academic use. All funds, but especially campus funds, student fees, gifts, and external financing are under scrutiny related to capital items.