Innovation another benefit of design-build
Procurement professionals are key to successful design-build project delivery, and therefore the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) was very pleased to see the article “The Growth and Growing Pains of Design-Build Construction” [April/May 2012]. DBIA promotes the value of design-build project delivery and teaches the effective integration of design and construction services to ensure success for owners and design and construction practitioners. The article identified many of the advantages of design-build as a delivery method, particularly in the wake of natural or manmade disasters, and in cases where cutting edge or highly complex facilities are needed. Unfortunately, the article failed to note that innovation, as well as time and cost savings, is a hallmark of design-build and that this is one reason design-build is increasingly used for projects like hospitals, communication facilities, and the other “leading edge” project types cited.
Procurement professionals play a much more significant role in shaping a project under the design-build method than they do under the traditional method. Design-build is a different way of doing business and the authors repeatedly and correctly noted that procurement officials need to understand that, yet they failed to provide any concrete insight into how procurement professionals can get the best possible design-build project by setting the groundwork for the kind of truly integrated project that satisfies owner and stakeholder needs.
For example, DBIA has long espoused the view that the predominant factor in the selection of a design-builder should be the qualifications of the design-build team. Owners who choose their design-builders based largely on qualifications reap substantial benefits – such as increased teamwork, proactive behavior, and collaboration – that contribute to project success. These benefits are well-understood by federal and state agencies. For decades federal and state agencies have selected their design professionals through qualifications under the Brooks Act and “mini” Brooks Acts, and have developed shortlists based on the qualifications of design-builders proposing under a best value procurement process. In instances where qualifications-based selection (QBS) is not viable, DBIA advises using a two-step design-build for projects that are large or technically complex. The two-step process relies on an RFQ phase to select the three most qualified teams to submit proposals. The corresponding RFP should thoroughly outline project requirements via performance specifications, establish the criteria for award, and determine the winning team through a best value selection process.
DBIA educates both owner agencies and their procurement staffs on how to maximize design-build project delivery through a synergistic, three-pronged approach that includes:
- Performance requirement that clearly articulate owners’ needs while providing flexibility, opportunities for creativity and accountability;
- Source selection processes that ensure the right team gets the job; and
- Rewards for high performance through aspirational contracts with awards and incentives.
Yes, it is a different approach that even seasoned procurement officials may initially feel challenged by. However, these are the best practices that have been used to successfully procure numerous and highly complex public projects including the recently completed renovation of the Pentagon and the Department of Energy’s much heralded net-zero National Renewable Resources Laboratory in Golden, Colo. I have attended numerous Owners-Only Forums at DBIA’s conferences in which procurement officials have testified to the success of DBIA best practices even as they acknowledge that a “mental shift” away from the traditional design-bid-build mindset is required by all parties involved. These professionals, from agencies large and small, and representing federal, state, and local governments, were excited by design-build not only because it is a cost-effective means of delivering value to the public but also because design-build represents an opportunity for engagement and professional satisfaction beyond business as usual.
— Susan Hines,
Managing Director Public Relations and Information,
Design-Build Institute of America,
Procurement Ponderable response
Here is a response to the last issue’s Procurement Ponderable, which described your dilemma as a senior civilian contracting officer called to join a meeting to discuss the problem of smugglers stopping Coast Guard ships and other watercraft by taking control of the vessels’ onboard operating systems. After hearing from everyone else in the meeting, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) turns to you for a practical solution. What do you say?
The following response comes from Steven M. Demel, CPPO, Tacoma School District Purchasing Manager:
I recommend that we conduct a two-step source selection by inviting technology companies to propose a practicable solution to this serious strategic problem. Once proposals are received, I suggest a team of our best people evaluate each proposal and identify the ones that appear to be feasible. Then the team should hold separate discussions with each of the companies with a feasible proposal to ensure each company fully understands our requirements, as well as to make any necessary refinements to the requirement. Each of these companies would then be invited to provide a best and final offer. The evaluation team could then choose to award one or more contracts to the companies deemed most likely to succeed. Final selection of a full production contract could be based on delivery and test of working prototypes (“fly before you buy”).
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