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DBIA Milestone: Bringing Design-Build to the States

When DBIA was established in 1993, design-build authority at the state level was confined to Virginia. Today, only eight states limit public agencies’ use of design-build procurement and there is not a single state in which design-build is not permitted in some limited fashion.

During DBIA’s first 12 years, members lobbied each statehouse to expand the delivery methods available to their agencies . Many within industry were wary of or resistant to this new method. From 1993 to 2001, the number of bills introduced in the states surged from just a few in the early years to 49. Even if these bills failed on the first or even the second attempt, visibility and awareness of design-build and DBIA was building.

In September 2002, DBIA released its first legislative tool kit for DBIA chapters and members. At that time, the delivery method was fully authorized in only a handful of states. The number of state bills exploded: In 2002, 143 were introduced and 52 passed. This trend continued until 2005, when 250 bills were introduced and 82 were enacted. By 2005, design-build was fully authorized in 16 states and widely permitted in 12 others.

While most states fully authorized design-build or widely permitted its use on building projects by 2005, the opposite was true in the transportation sector. In 15 states design-build was not authorized at all and in 13 states design-build was a limited option.

Design-build continued to lag in the transportation sector until 2009. At that time, DBIA made a concerted effort to expand design-build in the transportation sector and aimed its advocacy efforts at both the state and federal levels. Adding strength to DBIA’s push was passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). It’s “shovel ready” mandate spurred statehouses into action. A record 100 design-build bills were enacted that year, the majority of which expanded design-build in the transportation sector. In January 2009, there were 13 states where design-build was not authorized and another 12 where it was a limited option. Within 10 months, the number of states without any DOT design-build authorization dropped to just eight.

As more owners and legislators at the state level witness the success of design-build in nearby states, resistance to design-build weakened. In the post-stimulus period, from 2009 to the present, more legislation was enacted at the state level than ever before, including, historic legislation in the long resistant states of Ohio, New York and Texas. Greater familiarity with design-build and a post-recession emphasis on the bottom line prompted many state legislatures to rethink their stance on alternative delivery.


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