Twenty Years of Advocacy in Action

Fall 2013

By Louis J. Jenny

In DBIA’s 20 years, we have achieved many important milestones, creating a playing field that in many cases directly allowed for the impressive award winners highlighted in these pages. Earlier on Page 5, Lisa Washington salutes some of the people and projects that have been crucial to the growth in acceptance of design-build project delivery. Here I’ll discuss some of the regulatory and legislative milestones.

In 1993 design-build authority at the state level was very limited. During DBIA’s early years, our members lobbied statehouses to expand design-build, but many lawmakers — and industry partners — were wary of this new method. At our beginning, only a handful of DBIA-supported bills were introduced in statehouses, but, by 2001, the number had surged to 49 — a direct result of DBIA’s efforts.

In 2002 DBIA released its first legislative tool kit and the number of state bills exploded. Of the 143 bills introduced, 52 passed into law. As a result, design-build was fully authorized in 16 states and widely permitted in 12 others just three years later.

As owners and legislators at the state level continued to witness the success of design-build in nearby states, support of design-build increased. Since 2009, more legislation has been enacted than ever before, including in the long-resistant states of Ohio, New York and Texas. Today design-build is widely permitted in 41 states, and every state in the United States has used design-build in some fashion. That is eye-popping progress.

On the federal front, DBIA started from its first day to advocate for the authorization of design-build for federal agencies. In 1996, the Federal Acquisition Reform Act was enacted, achieving DBIA’s initial goal in a mere three years — a blink of an eye for federal legislation.

The passage of the Federal Acquisition Reform Act established DBIA as a significant force. We continued our federal advocacy efforts achieving design-build authority for aviation projects, a partnership between DBIA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a surface transportation bill (MAP-21) that qualified design-build projects for more federal funding.

This year, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., introduced the Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs Act of 2013 (H.R. 2750?). This important bipartisan legislation would significantly improve federal project delivery procedures and increase taxpayer value by requiring agency heads to better justify and report when their agencies short-list more than five finalists in the two-step design-build process, among other things.

To achieve this, DBIA and our coalition partners met with key congressional lawmakers to discuss the importance of two-step design-build and ways to encourage its best use. This work led to a congressional hearing in May, for which DBIA submitted testimony.

Over the course of the next few months, DBIA will advocate for the passage of H.R. 2750 as well as work on another surface transportation bill, promote Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) and continue our state and local work.

It is an exciting time at DBIA, and we look forward to working with you in continuing to advance design-build best practices.

Louis J. Jenny is DBIA’s Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach. He can be reached at