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AGC urges more discussion on project-delivery reform

By: Dan Shaw, [email protected]//February 19, 2013//

AGC urges more discussion on project-delivery reform

By: Dan Shaw, [email protected]//February 19, 2013//

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By Dan Shaw

Gov. Scott Walker takes questions from the media Wednesday in Madison. The Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin wants more talk before the state changes the way construction projects are awarded. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

A construction trade group is urging Gov. Scott Walker not to pursue project-delivery reform through the state budget without first soliciting opinions from the industry.

According to a memo the Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin sent Walker on Friday, the association learned through “a number of sources” that the governor’s budget, which is to be released Wednesday, might call for changing the way state construction projects are awarded.

“We urge you not to include any language in the budget at this time without at least meeting with AGC and the other major stakeholders in this process to get our input,” according to comments in the memo attributed to Jim Boullion, director of government affairs for the group.

Walker and Cullen Werwie, Walker’s spokesman, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Boullion on Tuesday acknowledged that one proposal being discussed would change the project-delivery law to favor the single-prime method. Under that method, projects would be managed by a single general contractor rather than the multiple prime contractors now commonly used on state projects.

Boullion said one concern about the proposal he has seen is that it would require general contractors to work on projects only with subcontractors that have submitted the lowest bids. He said the rule might deprive general contractors of the ability to avoid hiring subcontractors that generals have had trouble with in the past.

John Mielke, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, another industry group, said he also has heard discussions about making single prime the state’s default method of delivering projects. He said he has reservations about the proposals he has heard.

More talks might eliminate those reservations, he said, but it will be difficult to arrive at a plan that satisfies everyone. He said project-delivery reform has been debated for years.

“I think, at some point, the administration has to take a position on these issues,” he said. “The issues haven’t changed, and not everyone is going to be happy about it.”

The AGC’s memo to Walker refers to a 2009 Senate bill calling for project-delivery reform. That bill failed, although it won the support of every member of the state Building Commission.

Another Senate bill introduced two years later would have let the state Department of Administration use any of three delivery methods — single prime, multiple prime, or construction-manager-at-risk — on state construction projects. That proposal also failed.

At a meeting of the state Building Commission on Tuesday, state Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, called on Walker not to pursue project-delivery reform without soliciting a broad array of opinions from the construction industry and commission members. Walker acknowledged the advice and then called the meeting to a close.

Speaking afterward, Hintz said that if the governor’s budget does propose project-delivery reform, another question will be: What is the purpose behind the proposal?

“Is this serious?” Hintz said. “Or is this just to get the conversation started?”


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