Issue: DBIA works to encourage federal design-build selection procedures that will result in the best value for the American tax-payer. As part of this, we work to limit single-phase or “turnkey” design-build selection procedures – a procedure that is not a DBIA Best Practice. Also, working with our partners, we have successfully put in place statutory and administrative reforms that encourage federal agencies to properly implement two-phase design-build selection procedures.
Why: DBIA supports the two-phase selection procedure that puts the focus first on the qualifications of proposing design-builders. Then, based on those qualifications, the field of proposers is narrowed to five or fewer who then put together formal, detailed proposals. This is preferable for two primary reasons:
Federal agencies save considerable time and resources during the lengthy proposal review process by reviewing detailed proposals from only the most qualified design-builders.
More qualified design-build teams are encouraged to bid in the first round since the cost of bidding is so low and those that make it on to the second round can afford to put considerable resources into a detailed, innovative proposal because their chance of being awarded the project is comparatively high.
However, when either the single-phase/turnkey process is used or an agency decides to have more than five finalists in the second phase in the two-phase procedure, highly qualified design-builders are less likely to participate, small businesses are crowded out, innovation is discouraged and quality is driven down.
Status: Our efforts build on the success we had in 2014 in the National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 213-291), which put in place procedures designed to encourage proper shortlisting for larger two-step military design-build contracts. In the 114th Congress (2015-2016) DBIA worked with other A/E/C organizations supporting bills various that would limit single-phase/turnkey provision and put in place important reporting requirements, (1) Limit the use of single-phase design-build procedures to only small projects (defined as either 3 million or $750,000 in different bills) and (2) put in place important reporting requirements.
In the 115th Congress (2017-2018) we are supporting a H.R. 679, The Construction Consensus Improvement Act which (1) limits the use of single-phase design-build procedures to only small projects (defined as less than $3 million) and (2) puts in place important reporting requirements. We expect a Senate version of the bill at some point.
In 2014 legislation passed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that encourages defense design-build selection procedures that adhere to the mandated five or fewer finalists in the two-phase process. More specifically, the language requires written justification by the “head of contracting activity” when more than five finalists are shortlisted in a two-step design-build defense selection procedure of more than $4 million.
In 2016, the FAR Council finalized a rule that expands the NDAA language to also include civilian projects. DBIA submitted comments in support of this proposal.
Further, we saw significant Congressional Committee action on our supported bills, but neither was enacted into law before the 114th Congress adjourned.