Skip Navigation LinksHome > About > DBIA Milestone: Federal Advocacy
  • LinkedIn
  • Google
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to Favorites

DBIA Milestone: Federal Advocacy

The federal government’s use of design-build is a direct result of the Design-Build Institute of America’s (DBIA’s) first major advocacy effort. Shortly after the formation of DBIA, Jeff Beard was hired to be the inaugural Executive Director. Previously, Beard had done government affairs for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), making him the perfect person to lead DBIA’s efforts to authorize federal use of design-build. An incredibly active board that included Preston Haskell of The Haskell Company, Jim Gray of Gray Construction, Kraig C. Kreikemeyer of Sverdrup Facilities, Inc., Rick Kunnath of Charles Pankow Builders Ltd. and Don Warren of Suitt Construction worked with Beard and his assistant, Lisa-Marie Castaldi, around the clock to achieve DBIA’s mission.

The first sign the 1990s would be an ideal time to achieve procurement reform came from the Clinton administration. Newly-elected President Bill Clinton announced his administration was going to initiate a “National Performance Review,” which emphasized streamlining procurement. DBIA decided this was an opportunity to push for federal acquisition reform that authorized the design-build procurement method and joined with ACEC, AIA, ASCE, ABC, AGC, CIPF and NSPE to advocate for it. Despite the tepid response design-build had received in the past, this year elected officials and advocates expressed real interest. The bill’s quick passage through the U.S. Senate filled DBIA and our allies with optimism and hope that this change, which had languished for so long, was finally winning the support it deserved.

When the Senate-approved bill arrived in the House Government Operations Committee, DBIA’s Board and staff began the same process of meeting with committee and Congressional staff to talk about the benefits and importance of design-build. The amendments we were seeking, however, would have slightly altered the Brooks Act – a 1973 law that requires government agencies to select designers based on qualifications. Even though our language continued to encourage qualifications based selection, the law’s author, Congressman Jack Brooks, still served in Congress and was very powerful and fiercely protective of the law he authored. Brooks saw to it that no further action was taken on the bill.

The setback was disheartening, but DBIA continued to organize and educate members about design-build so that we could try again. Then, in November 1994, Jack Brooks and other opponents lost re-election, providing a fresh wave of energy to our efforts.

The coalition, now called “The Construction Procurement Coalition,” using every member’s contacts, was able to push our bill through the House of Representatives. Virginia Congressman Tom Davis had become chair of the Government Operations Committee and was a big supporter of design-build. He helped ensure our language was added to the bill the House voted unanimously to approve: the Federal Acquisition Reform Act of 1995. Eventually the Senate wrapped the Federal Acquisition Reform Act into a bill to reauthorize national defense spending, which President Clinton signed in February 1996 (PL 104-106). For the first time in history the federal government received the authority to use design-build.

By investing in a substantial lobbying effort to overcome an initial setback, DBIA and our allies demonstrated the importance of design-build and the power of its supporters. This successful effort established DBIA as a significant force among industry advocates, and the use of design-build has been growing exponentially ever since. Since this initial achievement, DBIA has continued our federal advocacy efforts and achieved design-build authority for aviation projects, a partnership between DBIA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a surface transportation bill (MAP-21) that qualified design-build projects for more federal funding. As we move into our next phase of federal advocacy we’re grateful to have such a dedicated board of directors, staff, and allies working with us every step of the way.


Previous Two Decades of DBIA . . . Next