Government construction contracting represents close to 45% of all U.S. non-residential construction spending, according to a recent review of Bureau of Commerce statistics. To learn more about our reader’s experiences and challenges on government contracts, ConstructionPro Network launched a survey this past May to find out how smoothly government contracts are run and to see what trends or patterns might emerge that may be worth further study. This article presents an overview of the survey results.
Although the survey sought out details on federal, state and local government programs, more than 52% percent of the respondents indicated 33% or more of their work was on federal government projects with another 30% indicating they performed occasional federal work. Among government agencies, the Corps of Engineers and GSA were the two main federal customers. 53% of all survey respondents were contractors or subcontractors, and the remaining participants in the industry were construction managers, architects, engineers, consultants, suppliers and attorneys.
The survey focused on five segments of the construction program, asking readers to identify what activities or processes caused occasional, frequent or ongoing issues on their contracts:
- Startup and mobilization
- Construction phase
- Claims and change order management
- Project close-out
When questioned about the procurement process, quality of technical specifications, completeness of drawings, and adequacy of the time period to submit proposals or bids ranked as the top three areas of concern among all respondents. Contractor experience with mobilization and the project start-up process was generally issue-free, with only two items ranking over 25% as a frequent issue: (1) availability of partnering opportunities; and (2) cooperation and responsiveness in processing start-up documentation.
For the construction phase, the level of issues involving the working relationship with the owner or owner’s representative jumped moderately, led by 26% citing response to and resolution of RFIs as frequently an issue. Timely review of shop drawings and submittals and adequacy of the owner’s contract administration procedures and technology were close behind with 23% saying these items were frequently an issue. Regarding change order and time extension requests, 30% cited turnaround time was frequently an issue, but otherwise responsiveness and willingness to negotiate were not often an issue.
For project close-out, dealing with punch lists, warranties, as-builts and final payment, readers again reported a relatively moderate level of owner issues other than payment. Closing out and processing payments on outstanding change orders as well as processing final payment were cited by 20% of readers as frequently an issue, with 10% of that group saying it was always an issue.
The overview data presented in this article represents a composite of the different types of government work. In a follow-up article, we’ll explore if there are any significant differences that can be identified in federal versus state versus local governments. Other aspects of the survey will also be reviewed. (The full survey report will be added to the ConstructionPro Network member library in the upcoming weeks.) Your comments are welcome.