indefinite quantity construction contract

Job-order contracting may be what's for dinner

Job-order contracting was developed to give governments a simpler option to bidding out every routine repair, replacement and maintenance job.

The concept offers up a single contractor to provide services over a period of time. Costs on future jobs would be kept low because they're based on bid prices for similar work, almost like industry-accepted parameters an auto mechanic uses to charge for labor. If his book says seven hours to swap a transmission or truck bed, that's what he or she uses.

Same thing with the job-order contractor. And in this case, the argument goes, the JOC would be able to keep costs low on even small jobs because the larger scope of the job over time.

Job-order contracting was designed in the 1980s by the military "as a way to overcome problems with the traditional design bid build method," according to a fact sheet by Arizona State University and the Alliance for Construction Excellence.

Interesting. At least it appears so. California Courts has approved about a dozen JOC companies for services in the statewide court system, and other organizations across the state are doing the same. The California Court services were bid, as is the acceptable practice.

I'm working on a similar proposal for work at 26 jurisdictions. But mine is a little different. This is for one-time work, energy efficiency retrofits, and it's relatively small potatoes as these things go. In addition, my nonprofit, the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, is offering companies only the opportunity to be recommended to cities.

The jurisdictions I represent have money through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program for replacing lights, pump motors and air conditioning units. This money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as federal stimulus.

But the money's not very stimulating until it can be spent. We've worked nearly a year on administrative duties meeting myriad government regulations specific to our unusual circumstances and are just now getting ready to start work. Most of the cities and counties in our partnership would like to have had this work completed already.

And time is running out. We are able to use this method of contracting because of that time crunch since it is advertised to speed things up. ARRA funds must be spent in the next 12 months or be lost.

It is up to each or our individual jurisdictions whether to use the job-order contracting option. Otherwise we bid out the work through conventional means. That's a time-consuming process and likely will be tough on small cities not expecting to have to go through the process.

I just gave an update to a city I'm working with, saying: "Every city will have to bid out the work. However, I'm trying my best to come with an alternative that has to do with job-order contracting and indefinite quantity construction contracts. It's a fancy way of saying a jurisdiction chooses to go with a pre-selected contractor using a 'price book' of already low bid pricing. We're bidding out the opportunity for the SJVCEO to recommend a company or process for this, and I'll keep you posted."

I'm no expert. I like to use the disclaimer that I spent 23 years working for newspapers, researching topics that were published daily. I've dug into this topic with my usual zeal and spoken with multiple people across the country. What I've discovered sounds like a promising prospect for time-strapped governments.

We'll see how it goes.