In January, NCR awarded a $73-million contract to Turner Construction of Arlington, Va., for the modernization of Federal Office Building 8—a 547,000-sq-ft building constructed in the 1960s in Washington—into an FDA lab.

With the economy still struggling, GSA is getting good value. Guerin says that bids nationally have averaged 8% to 10% below original estimates. In the NCR, Bush says it’s not uncommon to see bids between 15% and 20% below estimates.

Fueled by the saving, GSA produced a list of additional projects that could be added to the program.

“We looked at our existing inventory of projects that were designed or in design,” says Guerin, who estimates that GSA has a backlog of between $8 billion and $12 billion in needs nationally. “We looked at our top-200 energy-using buildings as places to realize large bang for the buck.”

In the Mid-Atlantic region, $12 million in savings was added to the CMS headquarters project for full roof restoration of the entire campus and installation of a photovoltaic solar array.

A critical component to GSA’s strategy has been its use of alternative procurement methods. With a focus on speeding projects to delivery, design-build has been used extensively, as well as some use of construction manager as constructor.

Rob Hewell
Bill Guerin

Seeing GSA move beyond traditional design-bid-build methods has been an encouraging evolution in the eyes of contractors, says Joel Zingeser, director of corporate development at Grunley Construction in Rockville, Md. Grunley is currently working on seven GSA projects in the Mid-Atlantic.

“They’ve clearly looked at opportunities to accelerate work through design-build,” he says. “Under these circumstances it makes sense to draw upon it.”

Guerin says several of the GSA’s initiatives will remain after the recovery act funds are spent. Many new contract templates have been standardized. National criteria for high-performance buildings have been developed and vetted. Review processes have been accelerated through improved prioritization. Based on its experiences with the PMO, Guerin also expects some form of a national network will likely be formed in the future.

Particularly noteworthy, officials expect design-build, CMC and other alternatives to design-bid-build to remain a prominent part of its procurement strategy. Guerin says GSA will also lobby for more full funding of projects, rather than long-term phased work.

�Hitting these deadlines has been a tremendous boon to us,� he adds. �If we deliver a project in a couple of years, [tenants] are less likely to change it midstream. If it takes six to 10 years to finish a project, codes may change, requirements may change and the needs of the customer may change. We�ve demonstrated that we have the ability to do things expeditiously and we want to continue that.�