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Walker signals shift in project delivery

Gov. Scott Walker (center) is flanked by Cree CEO Chuck Swoboda (left) and Chris Ruud, the president of Ruud Lighting, during a groundbreaking ceremony at a Ruud Lighting plant in Sturtevant on Tuesday. Walker is pushing for a new way for the state to deliver projects. (AP Photo/Journal Times, Gregory Shaver)

Gov. Scott Walker wants his state to modernize the way it delivers its largest construction projects, but he’s not in a rush to achieve such a goal.

At the end of Wednesday’s state Building Commission meeting, of which he is the chairman, Walker told Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, and other members that he wants to see changes regarding project delivery, but offered no timeline to see such decisions.

“As we get there, we want people to understand how we got there, why we got there, and that it’s a very transparent process,” Walker said. “How we can get there can be viewed in a very positive way or can be viewed with attached agendas.”

Hintz sparked the brief discussion on the matter when he called on Walker and the state Department of Administration to reveal its recommendations regarding project delivery. The DOA’s Division of State Facilities has been working for months to draft potential legislation to present to commission members that could change the state’s preferred method for delivering projects.

“I know there’s a bill out there, but I think it would be smart of us to be proactive,” Hintz said to Walker, “both from your office and taking the lead on hopefully some changes.”

Currently, the state prefers multiple-prime bidding, which means the state separately contracts with each construction discipline on a project.

In single-prime bidding, one primary contractor manages the bids, contracts and the work of each subcontractor. CMAR involves one contractor who works as a consultant before construction, negotiates a maximum project price with the state and then acts as general contractor until the project is complete.

To use either of these methods, state agencies must seek a waiver from the Building Commission.

The bill Hintz was referring to is a proposal from state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, who wants to allow the state to choose any of the three delivery methods for any of its projects. Wanggaard has yet to officially introduce the legislation, but a spokesman for the senator told The Daily Reporter last week it would not be long.

While Walker didn’t offer details of what he wants to see in project delivery reform, he did shed light on what he doesn’t like. In September 2009, commission members, behind the lead of former Division of State Facilities Administrator David Helbach, produced a bill similar to Wanggaard’s.

The bill was approved by a Senate committee in April 2010, but it soon died.

“Mr. Helbach had some ideas,” Walker said. “We’ve had the team here looking at that. It’s certainly not going to be that document or that suggestion, but that’s certainly viewed. What are the things proposed there that can be included?”

Hintz said he wants to see something from the administration sooner than later because of the great effort required to inform the state Legislature on project delivery.

“I think given how many times we deal with these issues on an item to item basis and how complicated some of these things sound when it’s presented to the rest of the Legislature,” he said. “As we look at the end game on the session calendar … we’re going to have to figure out how to inform everyone.”

Walker just asked for a little more patience.

“It’s a little frustrating timing-wise,” he said, “making sure people are aware of the process and how we got there.

“I think the time invested in that will pay off.”

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