The Journal Gazette
Thursday, November 14, 2019 1:00 am

House passes Banks' VA design-build bill

Integrates contracts into one

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The U.S. House has approved legislation introduced by Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, that would encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs to use design-build construction when appropriate.

Design-build construction integrates architectural, engineering and construction activities into a single contract rather than splitting the work among multiple contractors.

The Democratic-controlled House passed the VA Design-Build Construction Enhancement Act by unanimous consent Tuesday, advancing the legislation to the Senate for consideration.

During floor debate Tuesday, Banks said design-build construction has been used in the private and public sectors, including for the reconstruction of the Pentagon after terrorists crashed a hijacked jetliner into the building Sept. 11, 2001.

“VA has a multibillion-dollar backlog of construction projects but has never made much use of the design-build method, despite it being available for over 20 years,” Banks said, according to a transcript of his comments.

A 1996 law encouraged design-build contracts for the federal government.

“When used correctly, design-build can speed up construction and minimize costly change orders. That is exactly what we need in the VA, and I am committed to making sure that that happens,” said Banks, a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, said during debate that “both veterans and taxpayers are suffering from the cumbersome VA construction process. I am confident this piece of legislation will help deliver state-of-the-art facilities to our veterans in a more effective and expeditious manner.”

Banks' legislation was co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado.

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