Issues & AdvocacyState
Using the Design-Build Reform Toolkit: AIA North Carolina
By Zachary Hart, Manager, State and Local Relations
This legislative session AIA North Carolina is sponsoring a bill that would allow design-build project delivery with qualifications-based selection in public projects and in Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). AIA North Carolina’s bill was drafted in response a loophole that local jurisdictions were using to employ design-build project delivery, even though it is not one of the state’s legal project delivery methods. Because North Carolina law allows local-only bills, jurisdictions are able to lobby to exempt themselves from the state’s project delivery laws. In doing so, the jurisdictions were not only able to use design-build, they were also exempt from all the state’s contracting laws, including QBS. As more and more of these local-only exemptions were passed each year, North Carolina architecture firms reported that they were often required to offer up to 35% of the completed design to compete in the selection process for these projects. The cost of this free design work precluded most firms from even entering competition. AIA North Carolina’s bill, by requiring qualifications-based selection of the project team for design-build projects, intends to create a level playing field in the selection process.
In addition to allowing design-build project delivery for public projects, the bill will also allow the state to use public-private partnerships to construct public projects. PPPs are infrastructure projects that are wholly or partially funded by private capital. Lack of available capital for needed infrastructure projects, combined with North Carolina’s proximity to Virginia, where PPPs have been established for years, has meant a concerted effort by supporters to establish a PPP law in the state. While the infusion of private sector capital into infrastructure projects means more work for architects, PPP projects are delivered using design-build, meaning that passage of a PPP law would put additional pressure on firms to provide free design services to have a chance at winning a contract. AIA North Carolina’s bill aims to prevent such a scenario by introducing PPP legislation that uses design-build project delivery with qualifications-based selection.
For AIA Components interested in reforming their state’s design-build laws, AIA State and Local Government Relations and the State Government Network have developed a Design-Build Reform Toolkit. The toolkit gives an overview of the challenges and benefits of the design-build delivery method and includes suggested legislation that can be used to improve your state’s design-build law.
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