As lawmakers examine possible reforms to the contracting process for federal building construction, they heard on Dec. 3, 2013 from industry advocates who say current agency practices are chasing away perfectly qualified contractors, wasting money and stifling competition.
The issues surround the government’s use of design-build contracts for federal buildings — a setup in which the architectural work and the actual building construction are bundled into a single contract. Agencies can award those contracts in either a one-step or two-step process, and architects and builders who work in the federal space say they’re seeing problems with both.
In the one-step version, contractor teams have to submit virtually all of the technical details of their proposals all at once, and so do all their competitors.
That’s an expensive process. Charles Dalluge, an associate with the American Institute of Architects, said the average design-build proposal costs a company about $260,000.
“Teams must complete up to approximately 80 percent of the design work in advance, they must determine space needs, mechanic, electrical, structural, HVAC and other systems, building supplies and materials and, of course, the cost of construction,” he said. “As federal buildings become more complex, this work requires a considerable investment of time from the professionals on each of the design build teams.”
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