Over the past 10 years, California lawmakers have made tremendous strides in providing express design-build procurement authority to pubic agencies in the state. This authority, however, has not been applied evenly across all project types or agencies.
As matters stand in 2011, much broader design-build authority exists for public buildings or vertical projects than for transportation or horizontal projects. Within the realm of horizontal projects, projects on the state highway system are subject to a number of constraints that do not apply to other types of projects. And the express authority provided to a limited number of agencies under California’s Design-Build Demonstration Program and Design-Build Transit law is temporary and set to expire within the next decade. In general, most public agencies still face an uphill battle if they wish to use design-build for transportation projects.
To reap the full benefits of design-build, the California Legislature would be well-advised to adopt permanent, general legislation that allows public agencies to use design-build on a wider range of projects, leaving the details of the procurement to be determined by the agencies as appropriate for their needs.
See Nossaman’s article "California Public Contracting Laws: Design Build Authority for Transportation Projects" for more information on California’s most recently enacted transportation-specific design-build laws and on options available to public agencies who do not have express design-build authority but may nonetheless wish to combine design and construction services under a single contract for a transportation project.
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