Capital Planning

Effective: Monday, October 2, 2006

Last Revised: Monday, October 5, 2020

Responsible University Administrator: Vice Chancellor, Business & Finance

Responsible University Office: Campus Planning & Environment

Policy Contact: Emily Deeker


This policy applies to all University of Nebraska –Lincoln (UNL) projects relative to campus facilities that are anticipated to cost over $500K.

Policy Statement

UNL established a Capital Planning Decision process to address the need for a well-coordinated and communicated capital planning process. The need for quality university space is considerable with the growth of university programs and research as well as the requirement for existing facilities to meet the university’s teaching, research, and outreach goals. In a time of limited resources, meeting this growing demand requires detailed review, analysis, justification, and connection to the university’s strategic planning priorities. All capital projects, including new construction and /or renovations over $500K, are required to follow 5 specific steps: Program concept, needs assessment, early estimates, programming, and Board of Regents approval. These are further defined in the procedures section of this policy.

Reason for Policy

To ensure that capital projects at UNL are properly reviewed by the Chancellor and senior administration and that projects are consistent with university priorities and physical plans.


All capital projects, including new construction and /or renovations over $500K, are required to follow 5 specific steps: Program concept, needs assessment, early estimates, programming, and Board of Regents approval.

Step 1. Program Concept

A capital project begins as a concept when a faculty, staff, chair, dean, or other university stakeholder believes that current facilities are not sufficient to meet program requirements and new or renovated facilities will provide a solution. While specific costs are not necessarily outlined in this phase if a project is expected to be significant -specifically $500K or more - the concept must first be vetted to the Dean or Director of the college or unit. If the Dean or Director believes the capital project concept to be worthy of university consideration, the Dean or Director will present the concept to their cognizant Vice Chancellor (VC). If the VC believes the concept is justified and consistent with university priorities, s/he will bring the concept before the Chancellor’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT).

Step 2. Needs Assessment

University vice chancellors are responsible for presenting capital project concepts to the Chancellor and ELT. The Chancellor and ELT will assess the concept to determine the overall need, connection to other university programs and initiatives, and consistency with university priorities. The Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance’s (VCBF) office will transmit approval of the capital project to Facilities Planning and Construction (FPC) and the Campus Planning Committee (CPC). If the concept project meets these requirements and impacts the approved physical Master and/or Landscape plan, space planning, and campus context, it will be reviewed by the CPC. When applicable, the concept may also be reviewed by the Academic Planning Committee (APC). Depending on the project, a planning charette may be scheduled with the CPC, stakeholders, and other staff as necessary. If the proposal must be modified to address planning issues and/or academic priorities, a summary and recommendations will be returned to the Chancellor for consideration and modification. Once approved, the VCBF office will forward an approval to FPC for an early estimate.

Step 3. Early Estimates

The intent of this phase is to acquire additional information about the concept project including general requirements, sizing, implications, and projected costs. Once approval is received, FPC staff and/or outside consultants will work with the originator(s) of the project and Campus Planning to identify the needs, requirements, and costs. Once complete, the information is forwarded to the cognizant VC for final presentation to the ELT. If approved by the ELT, the project is presented to the APC following the existing Project Initiation Request (PIR) guidelines, if necessary. Once complete, the project is added to the official university capital planning priority list managed by the VCBF and maintained by Campus Planning in concert with FPC.

Given that funding is not always immediately available, the project may or may not move to the next phase – Programming. Projects on hold will not need to repeat prior steps. Projects not immediately forwarded on for programming are subject to annual estimate updates and inflationary increases to keep project costs as current and accurate as possible. This update activity is the responsibility of FPC, and any revised estimates will be provided to the ELT, Campus Planning, and originators of the request. Any costs incurred by the institution to keep project estimates current are the responsibility of the project originator.

Step 4. Programming

Programming can begin once all approvals are finalized. This involves the creation of a formal program statement by FPC in conjunction with requisite university stakeholders and the CPC. Once created, the draft program statement is vetted to the CPC and the Aesthetic Review Committee (ARC) for input, modified accordingly, and finalized.

Step 5. Formal Program Statement and Board of Regents Approval (if applicable)

If under $5 million, the project can being once the program statement is complete. Projects over 1 million but less than $5 million are reported to the Board of Regents (BOR).

If $5 million or greater, the final program statement is submitted to the BOR for consideration as an agenda item. Once the program statement is approved by the BOR, design and construction on the new facility or renovation can begin.


  • Originally approved by Chancellor October 2, 2006.
  • Revised and approved September 23, 2013.
  • Revised, reformatted, and approved October 2020.