Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Shucet Solution: Use More Design-Build Contracts

In our ongoing series of posts on Philip Shucet's recommendations for transportation reform, we come to the sixth in his letter to the Senate transportation task force: Use more design-build. At present, if I understand correctly, the Virginia Department of Transportation performs all of the design work for road and highway projects (except in rare instances in which the project is funded by a public-private partnership).

Shucet recommends that the General Assembly remove the restriction in state law that prohibits the outsourcing of project design, and "allow the market to drive the decision." Letting the same company design and build a project would:
  • Shift accountability to a single source, the contractor, "removing any doubt regarding accountability for errors and omissions."
  • Reduce project delivery times by allowing contractors and engineers to work in parallel.
  • Reduce project costs by eliminating the development of full engineering drawings before going to construction.
  • Reduce the government's cost to administer construction projects.

Design-build won't work in every situation, Shucet says, but for the right projects, "it provides a means to hit the ground running with an accelerated program."


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