Public housing authorities nationwide benefit from job order contracting
Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are tasked with the responsibility of providing one of the most crucial human needs to some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. More than one million households live in public housing units, managed by over three thousand PHAs across the United States. Meeting the never-ending needs of public housing residents – from broken fixtures to leaking pipes to major renovations – can be a daunting task. Some agencies have turned to an innovative construction procurement method to more efficiently and effectively maintain units in their communities.
The Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) is one of the largest community housing and development agencies in the United States. For many years, they struggled to effectively spend and obtain grant funding, completing just 10-15 projects per year from the mountain of looming deferred and preventative maintenance work. Today, LACDA is regarded as a pioneer in the successful renovation, alteration and maintenance of community housing projects. This transformation is largely due to the implementation of a procurement method called Job Order Contracting (JOC).
JOC is a unique indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) procurement process that helps facility and infrastructure owners complete a large number of repairs, maintenance and renovation projects with a single, competitively-awarded contract. Unlike traditional bidding where each project is identified, designed and then put out to bid, JOC establishes competitively-bid prices up front and eliminates the need to separately bid each project. It is an easy and expedited construction sourcing option public agencies can keep in their procurement toolbox.
By utilizing JOC, LACDA increased project completion by 400% in 2019, allowing them to cut their backlog of deferred maintenance and provide safer, more reliable structures for their residents. This increase in project completion is a result of the time savings provided by using JOC for procurement. Traditional construction procurement cycles typically take months to complete and require a significant amount of administrative and technical resources. Once a job order contract is awarded, the owner can ask the contractor to perform a series of projects. There is no need to prepare, copy, advertise and distribute bid packages for each project. The time-consuming front-end process is completed one time, rather than repeated for each project. The procurement process takes weeks instead of months.
In part due to the process improvements obtained from the JOC program, LACDA was able to achieve “high performer” status from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This designation boosted critical grant funding for the county. The increased funding has been crucial since the California housing crisis has increased demand for the agency’s services.
The remarkable turnaround for Los Angeles County has city and county government officials nationwide paying attention to and studying the LACDA procurement model. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is now using the same innovative JOC tools to improve living conditions for 62,000 low-income residents and provide training to local contractors in their community as well. CHA operates a unique program under Section 3 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Using JOC, CHA issued more than $80 million of construction work in 2017 to improve living conditions for its residents.
The JOC construction procurement method has a history of attaining and exceeding local contractor participation goals. Additionally, initiatives to support historically underutilized local, small, women, minority and veteran-owned businesses can be handled on a project by project or program-wide basis. The owner has the right to approve all subcontractors prior to issuance of the purchase order. Any specific conditions of the project, such as bonding or special insurance, are specified in the purchase order. Most of these considerations are handled up front in the initial customized bid documentation. The collaboration, transparency and increased communication between contractor and agency allows more efficient fulfillment of ADA Reasonable Accommodation requirements. It also allows a pathway for PHAs to achieve Section 3 “Best Efforts” to provide economic opportunities to low- and very low-income persons, particularly recipients of government assistance for housing, and provides unparalleled support for historically underutilized business incubation.
Through a partnership with Gordian, CHA is providing training, guidance and mentorship to area contractors—some of whom are Section 3 residents themselves. This unique program is changing lives by creating jobs for its low-income residents and mentoring them for continued success while meeting Section 3 HUD requirements. The program is performance-based and evaluates the contractors on their work assignments, allowing them to qualify for larger jobs based on the quality of their work. Gordian’s Construction Managers mentor contractors by providing training and guidance related to quality control, scheduling, building proposals to properly bid projects and more. The mentorship component isn’t only about building a proposal, it’s about building the contractors’ businesses with skills they can use throughout their careers.
There is never enough time or money to complete all the repairs, renovations and simple construction projects required to maintain safe and reliable housing units. But with the implementation of a JOC program, agencies have witnessed positive impacts to the lives of some of their most vulnerable residents.
As Regional Director for the Pacific South for Gordian, Jo Medelman is responsible for JOC operations and the delivery of customer support, staff and account management for clients in Southern California. Gordian is the leader in facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle. A pioneer of Job Order Contracting, Gordian’s solutions also include proprietary RSMeans data and Sightlines Facility Intelligence Solutions. From planning to design, procurement, construction and operations, Gordian’s solutions help clients maximize efficiency, optimize cost savings and increase building quality.