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  • Question

    After award design reviews, what rights ("teeth") would end-users have to comment and effect change on the detailed arrangements and fit out of medical departments?


    Answer

    To engage or not engage (the end user)
    The decision to use design-build or design-bid build method as well as the identification of required features of the final facility should always involve the end user.
    However, once the acquisition plan (FAR 7.105), Source selection plan, and RFP have been completed, additional customer interface becomes increasingly unhelpful – particularly when that interface includes changing the original requirements or design parameters.  It is particularly difficult to build a facility that meets a moving requirement.

    D-B vs D-B-B

    The design build approach is unique and only allowable if this particular requirement does not fit the traditional Brooks Act contract Construction contract method (Design-Bid-Build - FAR 36.1).  It would be a good idea to involve the end user in the decision on approach.

    When using a 2 phase approach only those “most highly qualified offerors” are advanced to the second phase (FAR 36.3). The up or down vote to advance is not an end user decision: this is up to the contracting officer.

    During the selection and award process of a Design-Build construction contract, the firms that have been brought forward to Phase Two will produce a design concepts and other technical requirements to be evaluated. 
    FAR 36.303-2(a) Phase Two of the solicitation(s) shall be prepared in accordance with Part 15, and include phase-two evaluation factors, developed in accordance with 15.304. Examples of potential phase-two technical evaluation factors include design concepts, management approach, key personnel, and proposed technical solutions.
    The end user may be included in the technical evaluation board and should be involved in the evaluation of the design concepts.  However, the award decision remains with the formally designated Source Selection Authority (SSA) who must follow the RFP and source selection plan.  The SSA’s final decision will be based on a combination of technical, price and past performance factors as identified in the source selection plan and promulgated in the RFP.

    Contract Management

    Like every contract, once awarded, only the contracting officer can modify the, design requirements or the terms and conditions. The end user has no business meeting directly with the contractor unless that meeting is coordinated and controlled by the contracting officer. Many a contract gone wrong that has fallen into this trap.
    Like all design and construction contracts this medical facility will have a series of design reviews – squatters’ session, 30% design, 60%, 90%, and final.  At each stage, comments and corrections should be solicited but also controlled by the contracting officer.

    As the project moves from one design stage to the next, certain aspects of the final facility are “locked” and the customer’s desire to change design parameters transitions from difficult in the beginning to altogether impossible by the end. Although hard to say, sometimes “I heard your requested change but we can’t do that” is the unpopular but correct answer.  


    The original listing of furniture, finishes and equipment (FFE) was established early on and may even form the basis of the design.  When the end user changes the equipment, this can have ripple effects across the electrical, mechanical, or even structural systems. Changing the physical layout of a work space may impact the floor plan and even the life safety codes (fire egress pattern) making the building un-certifiable.


    The contracting officer controls this process from award through occupancy.



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