Subcontractors perform the work and should be vetted individually for competence and other factors, which is not currently part of design-build thinking.
And subcontractors will still find that design-build is another way to "game" the system, just like we've seen for decades.
Here's what I mean. Sub data requirements need to be reported to the GC and Owner in proper certified payroll reports (i.e., what areas worked in and what labor tasks were performed on what day). Such timely information is vital to keep scheduling and costs in line and used for future conceptual estimating needs of the public sector.
Right now many of these reports are paper-written, such as those at New York City's Dept. of Design and Construction and other agencies. This data is not tied to anything and design-build will not change that reality (in fact it could make it worse). We need a better delivery method, not necessarily faster, more rushed construction.
A construction project is a "one-time" event. The more we capture the actual conditions and processes occurring on the job site the better it is for the Owner on down.
As costs start from proper estimating to design/construction models through facilities management models, processes must change to accommodate new ways of doing business. LEED points can truly be certified this way. Prevailing wage laws can be verified for compliance. BIM proficiency by subs can be tracked and certified.
The close-out of contractors can be vastly improved and made useful to new bidding opportunities and what subcontractors are qualified to bid new projects based on prior graded performances (transitional bidding).
We have none of this now. Much of current design-build law does not provide for this type of transparency.
Recently, I went to a panel discussion given by infrastructure partners lobbying for design-build laws within P3 projects. One of the panelists, a former aide to Gov. Ed Rendell in Pennsylvania (a champion of "best value" bidding) stated that what the voters want is a better way to produce construction projects that is real, measurable and definable.
By just giving it to a GC for a maximum price and saying "go build this" and essentially "call me when it's over" does not change the essence of our broken system.
In New York State, State Sen. Ken LaValle is a champion of the Alternative Project Delivery bill. It has great promise, with BIM and other reporting requirements to be added enabling design-BIM-construct-data sharing to occur .
The LaValle bill includes a CM-at-risk model. This structure enables subs to have direct contracts with the owners (a preferred method for subs and owners) and to have the CM "referee" the job but also be at risk, and not part of a cost-plus agreement.
Those usually end in one way: plus!
In reality, design-build should be known as design-assist-build-operate (DABO). Be careful of a one-size-fits-all approach like design- build.
As I said before, subcontractors will still find a way to "use" the system, just like we've seen for decades. Let's find a new way forward.