Jeff Stephenson, P.E., is the Team Leader of [...]
In 2000, I was the leader of Sain Associates’ first design-build government project. This was Phase 1 of the Von Braun Complex at Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Since that first project, our government work has increased significantly.
We’ve gone on to be involved in all four phases on Von Braun in the last 13 years. We are currently working on wrapping up the fourth phase. One of our biggest government projects has been the Martin Army Community Hospital in Ft. Benning, Georgia.
We’ve done a variety of other projects through the Corps of Engineers and the Government Services Administration (GSA). We’ve done design-build for the Society Security Administration, FBI and DEA/ATF Buildings in downtown Birmingham. I have a VA hospital under construction right now in Montgomery. We have also done Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) jobs, which is similar to being on call for smaller jobs.
So we have worked with a variety of government agencies, but one important aspect in all of the projects is that they are design-build. We really enjoy the design-build concept of a team of contractors, architects and others to collaborate and develop the most competitive design to the meet the requirements the government has requested.
After years of pursuing government projects and working on Design-Build teams, here are some of my tips:
- Find the right team. We have found that’s it’s crucial to be selective about who we team with, and this goal has served us well. Being on a strong team not only helps us get jobs but also helps us and do great work. We have some great people locally, but we often team with the best people around the country and around the world.
- Be creative. Being creative is also a big aspect of design-build work for the government. There are usually a lot of teams chasing the work, so it’s competitive, and cost is a factor. We can distinguish ourselves by creativity and technical ability to offer a cost-effective design.
- Use technology to your advantage. When we team with people out of state, as mentioned above, we need effective ways of communicating. We use online meeting technology, and it’s worked great for us over the years. One of the most important aspects of winning government projects is collaboration between team members, so communication is key even if we’re not all in the same room or even in the same part of the country. The better we can communicate at this stage sets the course for the whole project.