Dive Brief:

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law Dec. 31 the New York City Public Works Investment Act, which authorizes some New York City agencies to use the design-build delivery method for certain capital projects. The New York State Assembly passed the regulation in June 2019 and delivered it to the governor for his signature Dec. 20.
  • The law authorizes entities, which include the city’s DOT and Department of Design and Construction, to award design-build contracts for projects: operating under a project labor agreement; that cost $10 million or more; and for the Department of Parks and Recreation that cost $1.2 million or more. Other projects, such as for improved sidewalk access for those with disabilities, renovations to cultural institutions and libraries and security improvements of at least $1.2 million may also be delivered via design-build.
  • The law takes effect immediately, and, starting on June 30, each agency that has issued a design-build contract must submit an annual report that includes a description of the contract, information about the bidding process, the total cost, how much money the agency/department saved by using design-build and how much of the contract went to minority- and women-owned businesses.

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Dive Insight:

Other New York City entities allowed to use design-build are the Department of Environmental Protection, the Health and Hospitals Corp., the School Construction Authority and the Housing Authority.

Potential design-build contracts must demonstrate their capabilities in several areas including:

  • Quality of performance, timeliness and customer satisfaction on previous projects.
  • An ability to limit cost overruns and change orders.
  • Technical ability of the design-build team and personnel.
  • Risk management.
  • A record of compliance with wage and labor laws.

One reasons design-build has had such a tough time winning approval in New York City and within the state as well, despite Cuomo touting it as a way to streamline the construction process, is that some maintain that such a contractual relationship violates state Department of Education laws, which prevent the unlicensed practice of design services. The state Ed Department licenses architects. The new regulation, however, addresses that and requires that all design-related documents be stamped by licensed professionals.

New York City officials have been asking state lawmakers for the ability to use the design-build method for some time now, claiming that it can shave a significant amount of time and money from their project budgets. The city’s DOT said that allowing the delivery method to be used on just one project — the rehabilitation of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway — could save $300,000. ​