Congress Encourages State Department to Use Design-Build

DBIA advocates for design-build at the federal level

Language encouraging the use of design-build by the State Department in embassies and diplomatic posts has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act just passed by Congress.

The legislation is expected to be signed by President Biden. DBIA has urged Congress to pass this design-build provision as a way to deliver successful projects on time and on budget for American taxpayers.

While the State Department has a long history of delivering successful design-build projects worldwide, this provision codifies design-build as a preferred delivery method. You can see the legislative language here:

SEC. 7211. Contracting methods in capital construction.

(a) Delivery—Unless the Secretary of State notifies the appropriate congressional committees that the use of the design-build project delivery method would not be appropriate, the Secretary shall make use of such method at United States diplomatic posts that have not yet received design or capital construction contracts as of the date of the enactment of this Act.

(b) Notification—Before executing a contract for a delivery method other than design-build in accordance with subsection (a), the Secretary of State shall notify the appropriate congressional committees in writing of the decision, including the reasons therefor. The notification required by this subsection may be included in any other report regarding a new United States diplomatic post that is required to be submitted to the appropriate congressional committees.

(c) Performance evaluation.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall report to the appropriate congressional committees regarding performance evaluation measures in accordance with GAO’s “Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government” that will be applicable to design and construction, lifecycle cost, and building maintenance programs of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations of the Department.

SEC. 7214. Definitions

 In this subtitle:

(1) DESIGN-BUILD —The term “design-build” means a method of project delivery in which one entity works under a single contract with the Department to provide design and construction services.

(2) NON-STANDARD DESIGN —The term “non-standard design” means a design for a new embassy compound project or new consulate compound project that does not utilize a standardized design for the structural, spatial, or security requirements of such embassy compound or consulate compound, as the case may be.

DBIA applauds Congress for its recognition of the value design-build delivers to projects worldwide. As the best-performing delivery method for both cost and schedule, we hope to see similar legislative approaches in federal departments of all types to ensure American taxpayers receive the best project value possible.