U.S. House Endorses Design-Build for the VA

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U.S. House Endorses Design-Build for the VA

by Louis J. Jenny |  September 30, 2014

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed important pro-design-build legislation. The bill, H.R. 3593, The VA Construction Assistance Act, directs the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to use design-build “when practicable,” among other provisions. The House passed the bill on September 16th on a voice vote, following a similar clear endorsement of the bill by the House Veterans Affairs Committee a week earlier.

As I discussed in a blog post late last year, the bill was prompted because of the many and often high profile challenges the VA is facing with its construction projects, 86 percent of which are design-bid-build. Of these, nearly half are experiencing cost increases over initial estimates, with the average increase being fully 77 percent. (None of these troubled projects are design-build.)

Now H.R. 3593 moves to the U.S. Senate, where its fate is uncertain. Congress will not be back in session until after the mid-term elections in November and how much or little they have on their agenda will largely be determined by those elections. If the Republicans win enough seats to take control of the Senate in 2015, they will likely push to put off most things until the new year when they have the majority. Should that happen, the process will have to start all over again with a new bill, House consideration, etc.

Finally, it is worth noting that this is the second time in just a few months that the U.S. House has passed a piece of legislation DBIA is actively supporting. Earlier they passed a National Defense Act with a version of H.R. 2750, the Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs Act. You can take this as an important signal the design-build is catching on in the halls of Congress.

In the coming weeks, I will be working to get a clearer read on the Senate’s intentions for H.R. 3593. Please don’t hesitate contacting me at advocacy@dbia.org if you have any questions or comments.