Main Article Content
Awarding design-build (DB) contracts before a complete subsurface investigation is completed, makes mitigating the risk of differing site conditions difficult, if not impossible. The purpose of the study was to identify effective practices for managing geotechnical risk in DB projects, and it reports the results of a survey that included responses from 42 of 50 US state departments of transportation and a content analysis of DB requests for proposals from 26 states to gauge the client’s perspective, as well as 11 structured interviews with DB contractors to obtain the perspective from the other side of the DB contract. A suite of DB geotechnical risk manage tools is presented based on the results of the analysis. Effective practices were found in three areas: enhancing communications on geotechnical issues before final proposals are submitted; the use of project-specific differing site conditions clauses; and expediting geotechnical design reviews after award. The major finding is that contract verbiage alone is not sufficient to transfer the risk of changed site conditions. The agency must actively communicate all the geotechnical information on hand at the time of the DB procurement and develop a contract strategy that reduces/retires the risk of geotechnical uncertainty as expeditiously as possible after award.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
a) Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share and adapt the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
b) Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
c) Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Open Access Citation Advantage Service). Where authors include such a work in an institutional repository or on their website (ie. a copy of a work which has been published in a UTS ePRESS journal, or a pre-print or post-print version of that work), we request that they include a statement that acknowledges the UTS ePRESS publication including the name of the journal, the volume number and a web-link to the journal item.
d) Authors should be aware that the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License permits readers to share (copy and redistribute the work in any medium or format) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the work) for any purpose, even commercially, provided they also give appropriate credit to the work, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. They may do these things in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests you or your publisher endorses their use.
Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (2006), Design-Build Guidelines and Procedures. ASHTD Little Rock, AR.
Baecher, G.B., (1987). Geotechnical Risk Analysis User’s Guide. Federal Highway Administration Report RD-87-011, US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C., 50.
Baynes, F.J. (2010). ‘Sources of geotechnical risk’, Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 43, 321–331.
Blanchard, B., (2007).’ Design-build lessons learned Florida DOT’, Proceedings, Louisiana Transportation Engineering Conference, 12-14 March, Baton Rouge, LA, 6-14.
California Department of Transportation (2010), Design-Build Demonstration Program, Sacramento, CA. [Online]. Available:< http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/designbuild/db.htm> [October 30, 2012].
Centennial Contractors, Inc. (2004). Design-Build Project Manual, Centennial Contractors, Inc., Vienna, Virginia, 137pp.
Christensen M.R. and Meeker, L.E. (2002). ‘Design-build projects – lessons learned from the contractor’s perspective’, Proceedings, American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, 3-9 December, Lanham, MD, 14.
Clark, G.T. and Borst A. (2002). ‘Addressing risk in Seattle’s underground’, PB Network, January. 34-38.
Department of Defense. (2010). Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC), UFC 1-300-09N 25 May 2005 Including Change 7, Washington, DC.
Design-Build Institute of America (2013). 2013 Design-build state laws for transportation procurement, [online] Available at:
Diekmann, J.E., Songer, A.D. and Pecsok, R.S. (1987) ‘Risk analysis for revenue dependent infrastructure projects’, Journal of Construction Management and Economics, 15(4), 377–382.
Dwyre, E.M., Batchko, Z. and Castelli, R.J. (2010). ‘Geotechnical baseline reports for foundation projects’, Proceedings, GeoFlorida 2010: Advances in Analysis, Modeling & Design (GSP 199), 21-25 August, Orlando, FL, pp. 1-10.
Ernzen, J. and Feeney, T. (2002). ‘Contractor-led quality control and quality assurance plus design-build: who is watching the quality?’, Transportation Research Record, 1813, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, 253-259.
Federal Highway Administration, (2006). Design-build effectiveness study – as required by TEA-21 Section 1307(f): final report. US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC.
Federal Highway Administration, (2013). MAP-21: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, [online] Available at: < http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/> [February 2, 2013].
Federal Register, (2007). Design-build contracting, Final Rule, Rules and Regulations, 72(156), August 14, 2007, 45329.
Florida Department of Transportation (2011). Alternative technical concepts reviews. FDOT Design-build Guidelines, 2, 21-27.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) Using Structured Interviewing Techniques, 7 GAO/PEMD-10.1.5, Government Accountability Office, Washington, D.C., June 1991, 191pp
Gransberg, D.D., K.R. Molenaar, and J.N. Datin. (2008). Quality Assurance in Design-Build Projects, NCHRP Synthesis 376, Transportation Research Board National Academies, Washington, DC, 39-42.
Gransberg D.D. and Loulakis, M.C. (2012). Geotechnical Information Practices in Design-Build Projects, Synthesis 429, Transportation Research Board, National Academies, Washington, DC.
Hatem, D.J., (2011). ‘Risk allocation for subsurface conditions and defective design’, Design-Build Subsurface Projects.
Brierley, G.S. Corkum D.H. and Hatem, D. J.(eds) Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Englewood, CO, 22-28.
Higbee, J.B., (2004). ‘Geotechnical issues with large design–build highway projects’, Transportation Research Record, 1868, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, DC, 147-153.
Ho, K. K. S., Leroi, E., & Roberds, W. J. (2000). ‘Quantitative risk assessment: application, myths and future direction’, Proceedings, International Conference on Geotechnical & Geological Engineering, GeoEng, London, 14-19 July, 269-312.
Hung, C.J., Monsees, J., Munfah, N. and Wisniewski, J. (2009). Technical Manual for Design and Construction of Road Tunnels – Civil Elements, Technical Report FHWA-NHI-10-034, National Highway Institute, New York, 35-87.
Jaksa, M. B. (2000). ‘Geotechnical risk and inadequate site investigations: A case study’, Australian Geomechanics, 35(2), 39-46.
Jordan, E., Gross, M. E., Javernick-Will, A. N., & Garvin, M. J. (2011). ‘Use and misuse of qualitative comparative analysis’, Construction Management and Economics, 29(11), 1159-1173.
Kim, K.J., Kreider, C.A., and Valiquette, M.D. (2009). ‘North Carolina Department of Transportation’s practice and experience with design–build contracts geotechnical perspective’, Transportation Research Record, 2116, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., pp. 47–52.
Koch, J.E., D.D. Gransberg, and K.R. Molenaar. (2010). Project Administration for Design-Build: A Primer for Owners, Engineers, and Contractors, ASCE Press, Reston, VA, 118-145.
Loulakis, M.C. and Shean, O. J. (1996) Risk transference in design-build contracting. Construction Briefings, 2nd series, Federal Publications, Washington, DC, 12.
Loulakis, M.C., Wagner, B.P. and Splan, H.C., (1995). Differing site conditions. Chapter 11 of Construction Claims Deskbook.
Brams, R.S. and Lerner, C. Aspen Law and Business, New York, 1995, 131-166.
Mahdi, I.M., Alreshaid, K. (2005). ‘Decision support system for selecting the proper project delivery method using analytical hierarchy process’, International Journal of Project Management, 23, 564-572.
Manley, K. and McFallan, S. (2006) ‘Exploring the drivers of firm-level innovation in the construction industry’, Construction Management and Economics, 24(9), pp. 911-920.
Mendez, V., (2010). Every day counts: innovation initiative. Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC, pp.1-2.
Minnesota Department of Transportation (2003). Approach to alternative technical concepts. MnDOT Design-Build Program White Paper No. MN-11, St Paul, MN. 1.
Minnesota Department of Transportation (2010). Request for Proposals, Book 1 – TH 61 Hastings Bridge Design-Build Project S.P. 1913-64, Minnesota DOT, Metro District, St. Paul, MN, 7.
Mississippi Department of Transportation (2005). Request for Proposals, Addendum 1, A Design-Build Project Bridge Replacement on US 90 Biloxi to Ocean Springs Bridge Jackson and Harrison Counties, Mississippi, Contract No. ER/BR-0003-01(099) 104556/301000 –Biloxi/Ocean Springs Bridge, Jackson, MS.
Molenaar, K.R., Gransberg, D.D., West, N.J.N. and Kraft, E. (2012). Alternative Quality Management Systems for Highway Construction, National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 10-83, Transportation research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. 121-124.
Neuendorf, K.A., The Content Analysis Guidebook, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 216.
Oberguggenberger, M., and W. Fellin. (2002). ‘From probability to fuzzy sets: the struggle for meaning in geotechnical risk assessment’, Conference Report. 1-10.
Oppenheim, A. N. (1992). Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement, 24 Continuum, London.
Papernik, B.G. and Farkas, D.J. (2011). Using alternative technical concepts to improve design-build and PPP procurements. Nossaman E-Alerts, [Online]. Available: http://www.nossaman.com/using-alternative-technical-concepts-improve-designbuild-ppp, [May 26, 2011].
Perkins, R.A. (2009). ‘Sources of changes in design–build contracts for a governmental owner’, Construction Engineering and Management, 135 (7), 32-41.
Salter, A. and Torbett, R. (2003) Innovation and performance in engineering design. Journal of Construction Management and Economics, 21, 573-580.
Smith, R. (2008). ‘An evolving view of geotechnical engineering – a focus on geo-risk management’, Geotechnical Special Publication No. 178, GeoCongress 2008: New Orleans, LA, 231-239.
Songer, A.D. and Molenaar, K.R. (1996). ‘Selecting design-build: private and public sector owner attitudes’, Management in Engineering, 12(6), 47-53.
Texas Turnpike Authority (2001). Request for proposals to construct, maintain and repair the SH 130 turnpike through an exclusive development agreement,” Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, TX.
Tufenkjian, M., (2007). Review of geotechnical services, California Department of Transportation, Final Report, USDOT Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C. 76pp.
van Staveren, M.T. (2007). ‘Extending to geotechnical risk management’, ISGSR2007, 1st International Symposium on Geotechnical Safety and Risk, 22-26 June, Shanghai, 1-12.
Washington State Department of Transportation (2004). Guidebook for Design-build Highway Project Development,
Washington State Department of Transportation, Olympia, WA.
Weber, R.P., Basic Content Analysis, Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, CA, 1985.