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11/04/2011

Rulemaking to implement construction reform law moving ahead, albeit slowly

Slow but steady goes the process of drafting administrative rules that will allow state and local government agencies to use the new public works project delivery methods approved by the Ohio General Assembly last summer.

When the legislature passed the state budget bill in June, it included landmark provisions that permit public authorities to develop public works projects using design/build, construction manager at-risk and general contracting, in addition to the multiple-prime contracting method that was essentially the only project delivery system available to public agencies.

Those new project delivery methods will not be available to public agencies, however, until the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (ODAS) adopts administrative rules that expand and clarify the language in the enabling legislation.

A team of state officials led by Randall Howard, assistant director of ODAS, State Architect Lane Beougher and former State Architect Craig Weise, has been busy drafting proposed rules and hosting informal meetings with interested parties to gain feedback on their work.

The first group of rules will be the subject of a public hearing before the Joint Committee on November 14.  Those rules deal with the contract and subcontract forms to be used by public authorities on design/build and CM at-risk projects, and the type and amount of surety bonds on these types of projects.

A second, more substantive batch of rules is under development now.  They define the criteria public authorities must use when determining what constitutes "best value" when evaluating competing proposals for design/build or CM at-risk contracts; prequalification of subcontractors; electronic advertising of construction manager or CM at-risk contracting opportunities; and procedures for electronic bidding of public improvement projects.

If everything goes smoothly in the rulemaking process, the first group of rules could become effective a few days before Christmas, but the second group cannot be effective until early 2012 under even the most optimistic scenario.

Members of ACEC Ohio's Vertical Construction Committee are vetting the proposed rules, but anyone can review and comment on the draft rules through the state construction reform web site.

Council members who have concerns about any of the draft rules should communicate those concerns to ACEC Ohio Executive Director Don Mader as soon as possible.

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