My Perspective on Design-Build in Oregon

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My Perspective on Design-Build in Oregon

By Shirley A. Smith CPPB, OSPC, OPBC, OCAC, Assoc. DBIA; Procurement Analyst, Department of Administrative Services, State of Oregon


After 14 years in government, I have obtained the ultimate goal as a procurement professional, as I see it, which is to be certified at the Associate level by the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA). Design-build is a method of procurement which includes both design and construction, where normally these two components are solicited individually.

I have been reflecting back on my career the last few months since achieving this goal and thinking back on how DBIA has impacted my life, not only in government, but personally. I have been fortunate, thanks to the State of Oregon Military Department and Department of Administrative Services, to be a member of DBIA and the Northwest DBIA chapter. I have been able to attend DBIA conferences and educational seminars over the years. I have grown leaps and bounds in this professional arena and have so many to thank for this. (You all know who you are!) I thought I might provide folks with one DBIA member’s perspective.

In the State of Oregon procurement world, design-build is considered an “alternative” procurement method. The Oregon Legislature enacted statutes that allow government agencies to issue a request for proposal for public improvement based on several qualifications, not solely price. This is in contrast to a standard public improvement in which the public agency issues an invitation to bid based on specifications and issues a contract based solely on the lowest price. Using the alternative method (best value design-build) gives more flexibility to spend public funds wisely and efficiently, saves money and project time, and ultimately benefits Oregon communities in many ways.

Design-build has come far in Oregon I think, in part, because Oregonians think outside the box and are forward-thinking on how we can achieve successful public improvement projects. I‘m thankful that the Oregon Legislature supports Oregon procurement professionals and capital project owners by providing several procurement methods from which to choose. The state trusts our ability to choose the procurement method best suited to fit a specific project, which instills the public’s confidence in our ability to meet their needs and spend the funds wisely and appropriately.

Attending DBIA educational events as a capital project owner has provided me with the opportunity to expand my knowledge related to design-build. Attending not only allows my agency to benefit from what I gain, it also allows my agency customers to benefit. I have achieved successful outcomes on projects by using design-build for more than 11 years. Being a part of the design-build team provides me with skills to be more open in how I communicate, collaborate and coordinate. The public puts its faith and trust in government to look at best value concepts and the best procurement method in order to support the communities within Oregon. What amazing accomplishments I have been a part of which show how Oregonians have benefited! I believe DBIA and its members being here in Oregon and taking the torch and running with it is what has been so instrumental in making the difference.

I’m honored to say I’m a part of DBIA and I’m glad to be here to see design-build evolve every year. The support and connections made at the conferences and educational seminars are not only lasting, but inspiring. With the help of DBIA and its members, Oregon will keep moving forward to bigger and better things.