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Federal Advocacy

Our nation is being tasked to do more with less. Our message to Congress is clear…design-build holds the key to our future.

Educate and Advocate

From infrastructure investment to preparing our nation for innovations on our roadways and communities, there are many important issues Washington must address as we build for the future. Design-build will play a vital role by delivering the highest quality projects while saving time and money.

Our federal priorities include:

Implementing Effective Design-Build Procedures

DBIA works to encourage federal design-build selection procedures that will result in the best value for the American tax-payer. As part of this, we work to limit single-phase or “turnkey” design-build selection procedures — a procedure that is not a DBIA Best Practice. Also, working with our partners, we have successfully put in place statutory and administrative reforms that encourage federal agencies to properly implement two-phase design-build selection procedures.

DBIA supports the two-phase selection procedure that puts the focus first on the qualifications of proposing design-builders. Then, based on those qualifications, the field of proposers is narrowed to five or fewer who then put together formal, detailed proposals. This is preferable for two primary reasons:

  1. Federal agencies save considerable time and resources during the lengthy proposal review process by reviewing detailed proposals from only the most qualified design-builders.
  2. More qualified design-build teams are encouraged to bid in the first round since the cost of bidding is so low and those that make it on to the second round can afford to put considerable resources into a detailed, innovative proposal because their chance of being awarded the project is comparatively high.

However, when either the single-phase/turnkey process is used or an agency decides to have more than five finalists in the second phase in the two-phase procedure, highly qualified design-builders are less likely to participate, small businesses are crowded out, innovation is discouraged and quality is driven down.

Our current efforts build on our success in the National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 113-219), which put in place procedures designed to encourage proper shortlisting for larger two-step military design-build contracts. DBIA worked with other A/E/C organizations supporting bills various that would limit single-phase/turnkey provision and put in place important reporting requirements, (1) Limit the use of single-phase design-build procedures to only small projects (defined as either 3 million or $750,000 in different bills) and (2) put in place important reporting requirements.

DBIA supports H.R. 679 and S. 2113, The Construction Consensus Improvement Act which (1) limits the use of single-phase design-build procedures to only small projects (defined as less than $3 million) and (2) puts in place important reporting requirements. 

Successes:

Recent legislation approved as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) encourages defense design-build selection procedures to adhere to the mandated five or fewer finalists in the two-phase process. Specifically, the law requires written justification by the “head of contracting activity” when more than five finalists are shortlisted in a two-step design-build defense selection procedure of more than $4 million. Ultimately, the FAR Council expanded the NDAA language to include civilian projects. DBIA supported this proposal.

Federal Infrastructure Investment

DBIA supports federal efforts to boost our nation’s infrastructure investment. This is one of the few issues in this politically divisive era which garners wide support across parties, regions, and states yet — we can’t pave streets with promises. Americans in cities and rural areas, no matter their political persuasion, understand that our nation’s bridges and roads, airports and public transit, water and sewer pipes — which serve as a bedrock of our economy — are in desperate need of improvement. Study after study has shown that much of our nation’s infrastructure is either structurally deficient, functionally obsolete or both. Despite rare bipartisan agreement and recognition of the problem, there are no easy answers for how to solve a problem that’s been decades in the making. The most fundamental question is “how do we pay for it?”

Design-build isn’t new and it’s not radical; however, it does require public owners (like cities, states and the federal government) to provide flexibility in the procurement process allowing designers and builders to collaborate earlier in the process, creating projects which allocate risks more efficiently and improving delivery time and budget.

The design-build industry, representing a broad array of professionals including; architects, builders, engineers, legal and finance experts, and owners, knows what it takes to deliver on the promise of building a better America. We’ve been doing it for decades. DBIA urges Congress to support the innovation and collaboration needed to find a way to increase America’s infrastructure investment.

Lowest Price Technically Acceptable for Design-Build Services (LPTA)

DBIA Opposes Use of Lowest Price Technically Acceptable for Design-Build Services

Federal regulations lay out a number of ways the government can negotiate and contract with the private sector to provide services or goods. One of these methods is known as Lowest Price Technically Acceptable, or LPTA. While there are situations when LPTA makes sense, DBIA opposes its use in federal, state or municipal government contracting for design-build services.

LPTA is when the government sets minimum standards before accepting proposals, and then chooses the lowest bidder. It works well for purchasing commodities or fairly simple services. For example, when purchasing office supplies or uniforms or contracting for services like laundry or custodial work, it makes sense for the government to choose the lowest bidder, as long as the commodities or services provided meet minimum standards. LPTA gives the government a good mechanism for negotiating contracts in such a situation.

However, LPTA can be very limiting when contracting for complex professional services and where quality and innovation are important, such as design-build services. With design-build, exceeding the basic parameters of a contract will bring increased value to the federal government, and is indeed why Design-Build Done Right is highly desirable and the recommended method for government project delivery.

Instead of LPTA, DBIA recommends government entities follow the Two-Phase Design-Build Selection Procedure or qualifications-based selection (QBS), especially when technical solutions, quality, schedule, past performance and innovation are key components to achieving a project’s success. These processes allow contracting officers to appropriately balance cost with quality, technical competency and the past performance of a design-build team. Studies and experience have shown two-phase and QBS design-build offer the government the best opportunity to meet or exceed project goals and bring a project to completion on time and with little or no adversarial disputes, claims or litigation.

DBIA recommends all levels of government should cease using LPTA when contracting for design-build services. Fully embracing the procurement practices as defined by DBIA’s Design-Build Done Right best practices will help achieve best value for the government and the taxpayer.

A copy of the position paper can be found here.

Federal Owners Forums

We Work Together to Find Solutions to Federal Project Delivery Challenges

Each year, DBIA and the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) host the Federal Owners Forum, bringing together a diverse group of agency leaders to brainstorm solutions to the unique challenges facing federal project delivery teams. DBIA and SAME strive to help federal agencies ensure they have the right tools, the right people and the right processes to enhance project delivery.

Federal Sector Best Practices

This DBIA primer provides best practices, techniques and Design-Build Done Right™ tools to help teams navigate federal project delivery.

It’s vital to understand the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), what it allows and/or precludes, to deliver a successful design-build project in the federal sector. Most agencies further supplement the FAR with agency-specific policies and procedures tailored to their specific mission.

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Working Together

DBIA is an active member of several coalitions working together to improve federal project delivery. These include a broad group of organizations including AGC, AIA, ACEC, and the national surety associations currently working to pass the Construction Consensus Procurement Improvement Act, H.R. 679 and S. 2113. This coalition has a solid record of legislative successes. Other coalitions DBIA takes an active role in include a broad coalition coordinating to fund infrastructure investment, and another specifically working to improve and expand the use of Public-Private Partnerships.

Ongoing advocacy efforts include:

  • Limits on single step/turnkey design-build project delivery.
  • Banning the use of reverse auctions for procurement of design and construction services.
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