by Paul Tarricone, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 2, Pg. 36-39

Document Type: Feature article


Through the years, the low-bid has been the traditional contracting method for American public sector construction. Increasingly, a number of government agencies are experimenting with innovative contracting methods that de-emphasize the low bid. Innovative contracting is more commonly applied to building or hazardous waste cleanup projects, but the practice is also gaining acceptance in federally-aided highway projects. Agencies experimenting with these bidding techniques include the General Service Asministration, the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a number of state DOTS and city transit agencies. Innovative contracting methods for highway and other projects include warranty/guarantee, end-result specifications, cost-plus-time bidding, lane rental fees, price and other factors bids and competitive negotiation. Advocates say they can lead to higher construction quality, more efficient project delivery and more value for the taxpayer's dollar. Some in the construction community, however, have serious reservations. Opponents claim that some alternative bids are too expensive to prepare, that there is too much secrecy in the selection process and that so-called innovative contracting is just a way for public sector owners to eliminate firms that they perceive to be litigious. In addition, concepts, such as warranty/guarantee, are criticized for shifting too much of the risk of a project on to the contractor, who may have trouble getting bonding for a project that has to be guaranteed for as long as five years.

Subject Headings: Contracts and subcontracts | Bids | Project management | Innovation | Federal government | Highways and roads | Construction methods

Services: Buy this book/Buy this article


Return to search