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Architect testifies: Reform the design-build contracting process

News | January 1, 2014 | By:

Current federal contracting laws are discouraging talented architects from competing for federal contracts, depriving government and, by inference, taxpayers of the best design expertise available, according to AIA testimony presented Dec. 3 on Capitol Hill.

Testifying before the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Charles Dalluge, executive vice president of Omaha, Neb.-based architecture firm Leo A Daly, called for reform of the design-build contracting process so that more design and architectural firms can bid on federal contracts without fear of losing money in the process.

The federal market has been a key for architecture firms’ survival in the recession, and increased competition costs have forced many firms from participating in federal contracts, Dalluge testified.

“According to a survey published by the AIA Large Firm Roundtable in 2012, between 2007 and 2011, architecture firms in teams that competed for public- and private-sector design-build projects spent a median of $260,000, by making detailed plans, models and other materials,” Dalluge said. In recent years, federal agencies have forced larger numbers of teams to compete against one another, reducing the chances that any one team can win.

“Due to the current economic climate, design firms face the dilemma of ‘betting it all’ on a contract they may not get, or self-selecting out of the federal design-build market,” Dalluge said, adding that it also costs taxpayers more money “when contracting officers spend increasing amounts of time reviewing a larger number of complicated design proposals.”

To reform the federal contracting process, Dalluge called on Congress to pass The Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs Act of 2013 (H.R. 2750), which was introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) in July.

“H.R. 2750 requires contracting officers to provide a written justification to the head of an agency for requiring more than five finalists in the second stage of a design-build solicitation and agency approval of such justification,” Dalluge said. “H.R. 2750 will provide more certainty and opportunities for design firms of all sizes who wish to enter the federal marketplace. It will ensure that agencies have the ability to select the most qualified design-build teams who will deliver the best buildings for agencies and the public. It also will limit federal agencies’ burdens in reviewing a large number of proposals.”

About the American Institute of Architects

For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world.

About Leo A Daly

Established in 1915, LEO A DALY is an international architecture, engineering and interior design firm. The company’s portfolio includes award-winning projects in 87 countries and all 50 states. With over 800 employees in 30 offices worldwide, the firm ranks in the top-10 largest design firms in the United States and top 25 globally.

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