Contract Administration Functions and Tools for Design-Build and Construction Manager/General Contractor Project Delivery in U.S. Highway Construction

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Description

The demand for new highway infrastructure, the need to repair aging infrastructure, and the drive to optimize public expenditures on infrastructure have led transportation agencies toward alternative contracting methods (ACMs)

The demand for new highway infrastructure, the need to repair aging infrastructure, and the drive to optimize public expenditures on infrastructure have led transportation agencies toward alternative contracting methods (ACMs) such as design-build (DB) and construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC). U.S. transportation agencies have substantial experience with traditional design-bid-build delivery. To promote ACMs, the Federal Highway Administration and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCRHP) have published ACM guidance documents. However, the published material and research tend to focus on pre-award activities. The need for guidance on ACM post-award activities is confirmed in NCHRP’s request for a guidebook focusing on ACM contract administration (NCHRP 2016).

This dissertation fills the crucial knowledge gap in contract administration functions and tools for DB and CM/GC highway project delivery. First, this research identifies and models contract administration functions in DBB, CM/GC, and DB using integrated definition modeling (IDEF0). Second, this research identifies and analyzes DB and CM/GC tools for contract administration by conducting 30 ACM project case studies involving over 90 ACM practitioners. Recommendations on appropriate use regarding project phase, complexity, and size were gathered from 16 ACM practitioners. Third, the alternative technical concepts tool was studied. Data from 30 DB projects was analyzed to explore the timing of DB procurement and DB initial award performance in relation to the project influence curve. Types of innovations derived from ATCs are discussed. Considerable industry input at multiple stages grounds this research in professional practice.

Results indicate that the involvement of the contractor during the design phase for both DB and CM/GC delivery creates unique contract administration functions that need unique tools. Thirty-six DB and CM/GC tools for contract administration are identified with recommendations for effective implementation. While strong initial award performance is achievable in DB projects, initial award performance in this sample of projects is only loosely tied to the level of percent base design at procurement. Cost savings typically come from multiple ATCs, and innovations tend to be incremental rather than systemic, disruptive, or radical. Opportunity for innovation on DB highway projects is influenced by project characteristics and engaging the DB entity after pre-project planning.