by Louis J. Jenny | July 21, 2013
We are pleased to report that Representative Sam Graves (R-MO), the Chair of the House Small Business Committee has introduced the Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs Act of 2013 (HR 2750). DBIA worked with the Chairman and his staff on this language and supports the bill.
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 on a specific project in the two-step process. Second, the bill would limit the use of single-step design-build to projects that are less than $750,000.
Two-step design-build, or best value selection, is a DBIA Best Practice because it increases the number of firms that can feasibly compete to design and build a project, while simultaneously helping an owner (in this case, a government agency) choose the most qualified firm. A single-step/turnkey process (which is not endorsed by DBIA) requires every interested bidder to submit detailed proposals up front at a very high cost to bidding companies, often leading to 15-20 proposals. This discourages qualified firms, large and small, from competing for a project since their chances of being chosen are so low. Further, the government entities are more likely to pick the lowest bidder (regardless of quality) since careful consideration of so many proposals is often unrealistic.
Two-step allows companies to first only submit their qualifications, such as examples of past projects and the resumes and credentials of the bidding team members. The low cost of this initial submission flattens the playing field, encouraging more firms to compete for these projects. The owner then, in the second step, narrows down the applicants to 3-5 of the most qualified bidders before asking them to provide more detailed proposals. This all works to encourage innovation and improve overall project quality and value.
This year DBIA engaged in dialogues with Congressional staff and partner organizations discussing the importance of two-step design-build, and ways we could encourage its best use. This work led to the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce holding a hearing in May in which DBIA submitted testimony. Additional key groups also testified in support of two-step design-build, including the American Institute of Architects, National Association of Surety Bond Producers, Associated General Contractors of America, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Over the course of the next few months, DBIA and our partners will be advocating for passage of the Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs Act. We are confident this bill will allow the federal government to more efficiently build quality public projects, and its bi-partisan nature gives us hope that it will pass with strong support. We will keep you updated as the process moves along.