Author: Douglas D. Gransberg, University of Oklahoma
As debate continues over reform of public construction in Massachusetts, Douglas Gransberg, associate professor of construction science at the University of Oklahoma, offers two significant contributions: First, he has employed a vast collection of data to measure the efficiency of the Design- Bid-Build process currently in use in the Commonwealth. And, in so doing, he has neatly separated the issue of efficiency from the fear of corruption that in the 1970s spawned the Ward Commission and continues to inspire opposition to reform. The truth of the matter is that the two issues—corruption and reform—can and should be debated separately. There is no evidence correlating the use of alternative procurement methods with an anomalous level of corruption. State and federal agencies that have chosen the path of innovation have also developed tools to minimize corruption. The question is, therefore, whether Massachusetts can gain in efficiency by lifting legislative restrictions to take advantage of all available procurement methods.
The analysis compares the performance of the Commonwealth’s construction procurement process to alternate methods used in three other states, with respect to project cost and timely completion. Data from 10 Commonwealth agencies that routinely procure design and construction services were gathered on 926 projects worth $1.1 billion in completed construction cost. These data were compared to similar information on 463 projects worth $2.5 billion from the states of Florida, Indiana, and Texas. It is likely the largest empirical sample ever put together for a comparative study of procurement systems. The author charted the life cycle of a typical Massachusetts project, so as to isolate legislative constraints that increase delivery time and cost and found two “bottlenecks” that restrict project progress.