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DBIA Milestone: 2011, Ohio Embraces Design-Build – Part 2

After 134 years of using multi-prime project delivery, Ohio was finally willing to look into authorizing design-build in the spring of 2011. DBIA had met with the newly elected Governor, John Kasich, who had signaled strong support for procurement reform, and momentum appeared to be on our side. This is the second part in a two-part series on DBIA’s efforts to change procurement laws in Ohio (see part 1).

Governor Kasich’s team decided to go for a transportation bill first, both because it was the Governor’s priority and because they had already been using design-build at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). The proposed bill was historic in its breadth and would be very difficult to pass. The bill would raise the cap on design-build projects from $250 million every two years to $1 billion annually. In other words, increase the cap by 800 percent! The proposal also would have adopted two of DBIA’s best practices by authorizing ODOT to use “best value” when selecting bidders instead of simply choosing the lowest bid and by codifying the use of stipends for bidders not chosen. The stipend issue was a particularly big deal since the previous year the Ohio Solicitor General had challenged ODOT’s use of stipends on the I-90 Inner Belt Bridge project. By specifically endorsing stipends the bill would increase the number and quality of proposers on design-build projects.

During the debate around the Governor’s transportation funding bill, DBIA met with key stakeholders and legislators to provide examples of successful design-build projects and convince them of the value of stipends and “best value” selection. Our hard work paid off when the funding bill passed with all of our preferred language intact!

Before we could celebrate, DBIA quickly seized on this momentum to push for HB 153, a comprehensive reform bill that would authorize all state agencies, commissions and local governments to use design-build. One of our partners at the time, Ohio State Architect Lane Beougher, helped connect us to his contacts in the area saying in a press release at the time, “I have spoken to the stakeholders, including Ohio State University. The university believes that the design-build delivery option offers significant cost and time savings. That means students will get high quality facilities sooner and the administration will improve its balance sheets on construction.” We also met with representatives of the Department of Administrative Services and our allies from the effort to pass the transportation measure. They all agreed that the time was right and the momentum was there.

The following week, representatives from all over Ohio, armed with facts, examples and research from DBIA, spoke up in favor of design-build before passing the most sweeping and comprehensive reforms Ohio’s construction laws had seen since the 19th century. That the winds of change had moved so quickly was not lost on State Architect Lane Beougher who told our staff at the time, “I keep resisting the urge to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming or not. Could Governor Kasich really have just signed the most sweeping changes in Ohio's construction law in 134 years into law tonight?” It was true, and we were so proud to be a part of it.


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