American Society of Civil Engineers

Construction Delivery Systems: A Comparative Analysis of Their Performance within School Districts

by David Col Debella, (Proj. Engr., Turner Constr. Co., 265 Davidson Ave., Ste. 255, Somerset, NJ 08873. E-mail: and Robert Ries, (Asst. Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Univ. of Pittsburgh, 949 Benedum Hall, 3700 O’Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260. E-mail:

Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Vol. 132, No. 11, November 2006, pp. 1131-1138, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Multiple prime is one type of construction delivery system and it is the subject of many discussions in the industry. Many general contractors, architects, and owners believe that this system inherently has coordination problems. On the other hand, specialty contractors believe that this system has several advantages because of the exclusion of the intermediate parties and the direct relationship of these contractors to the owner. The goal of this study is to objectively analyze the performance of construction delivery systems within public school districts. The school districts in the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Virginia form the population of this study. Quantitative and qualitative variables are used for comparison. ANOVA and two-sample t tests are used as statistical tools for the quantitative, and the chi-square test is used for the qualitative analysis. Two groups of projects are examined. Set one includes all valid responses to a survey sent to school district superintendents. The second set is limited to the analysis of projects whose total cost is greater than $10x106. Descriptive statistics on the incidence of litigation in these projects is also presented in the results. The conclusions from this study can guide owners, especially public entities with limited flexibility, in the selection of the delivery system appropriate for their project. It can guide contractors in identifying opportunities for improving services to their clients. This study has provided quantitative and qualitative measures of alternative project delivery systems in public projects that could lead to further research as well as the development of delivery systems that would satisfy the multiple stakeholders in construction projects.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Construction industry
Project delivery