The weak economy is negatively impacting many industries including construction. Due to the economic slowdown, many commercial construction projects are getting put on hold across the state. State Sen. Harry Coates says that construction professionals are seeing even more of their job opportunities go to out-of-state entities because of an unfair state law. For this reason, he has filed Senate Bill 31 to remove the design-build delivery method from the Public Building Construction and Planning Act.
"Since the addition of the design-build aspect of the Act in 2000, we've seen more and more projects go to out-of-state companies because in many cases Oklahoma contractors, including some of the state's best, can't meet the selection criteria required under current rules," said Coates, R-Seminole. "Removing this delivery method will allow more Oklahoma companies to qualify for construction jobs."
"Design-build" is a project delivery method whereby the state acquires both design and construction services in the same contract from a single entity known as the design builder without the bid component of the traditional design-bid-build process. Under more traditional methods like design-bid-build, the architect and engineer work for the building owner. However, under the design-build method, the architect and contractor work together so that there is no design entity looking after the state's interest.
"There needs to be a clear separation of design services from those services provided by the builder. Otherwise, there is no entity looking out for the best interest of the public in getting the best construction for the dollars spent," said Coates. "The design-build delivery method clearly eliminates competition within the public construction market."
Coates pointed to the recent awarding of $100 million to out-of-state firms for the construction of four new armories in the state as an example of why he feels his legislation is necessary. The projects will be completed using the design-build method. Due to the selection criteria required under this rarely-used method in the state, Oklahoma contractors were unable to qualify for the projects. Coates went on to say that without his legislation the remaining $50 million in armory projects will more than likely be awarded to out-of-state entities.