Implementation of Lean Concepts for Public Sector Engineering Design and Construction: A Case Study

John A. Kuprenas1

1Project Manager, VCM c/o City of Los Angeles – DPW/BOE/PMD, 650 S. Spring Street, Suite 1100, Mail Stop 549, Los Angeles, CA 90014, (213) 485-2443, and Research Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90087, [email protected]


This work details the implementation of lean thinking concepts, tools, and processes in the City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Engineering— one of the largest public engineering organizations on the world. Poor past project delivery performance has lead to a radical change in the Bureau’s organizational structure and project delivery processes. Central to the entire change is a shift toward a lean production model, centered on systems optimization. This work describes the reasons for the shift to lean thinking that began in the Bureau in the spring of 1997. The Bureau re-organization and the systems optimization background training are detailed. The ongoing training that is used to further foster lean thinking concepts is next reviewed. The majority of the paper is devoted to explaining specific lean thinking processes that were used as part of the transformation of the Bureau. Implementation of lean thinking is illustrated through detailed descriptions and examples the use of specific tools. Executive management and strategic planning efforts necessary to implement the lean thinking methods are explained and illustrated. Methods of reporting the transformation throughout the Bureau’s workforce and to the Bureau’s partners are also detailed and sample reporting and communication products are provided. Conclusions describe the performance improvements achieved to date through lean thinking, the obstacles the effort has yet to overcome, and mistakes made along the path so far. Future research needs identified through this effort are also included and discussed.


Engineering, design, construction, public sector, training, project controls, training, lean processes.



Kuprenas, J. A. 1998. Implementation of Lean Concepts for Public Sector Engineering Design and Construction: A Case Study, 6th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , -.

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