(The Center Square) – A new law that changes how publicly funded construction projects are awarded by the state of New Jersey is receiving bipartisan praise.
The law allows government entities to award construction contracts to a single company that would oversee a construction project, as opposed to a government entity awarding separate contracts to an architect and a construction company. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill into law on Friday.
“Empowering one entity to manage the operation from start to finish results in a more organized, efficient workflow,” said Republican Sen. Steve Oroho, one of the bill’s sponsors. “It is a better process that can help us accomplish more, faster, for less taxpayer money.”
Gov. Phil Murphy said previous state law did not prohibit the use of the design-build model but “the general statutory scheme for construction contracting discourages its use by calling for separate plans, specifications, and bids for each aspect of a construction project.”
State and local government entities were also required to award the project to the lowest bidder.
“Design-build projects are rarely if ever, structured to award the project to the lowest bidder because cost is only one factor in the design-build approach, which places primary emphasis on design and quality,” Murphy said. “The use of design-build will allow contracting units to select the bidder whose bid will be most advantageous to the contracting unit based on price and other factors integral to the design-build process.”
Several state agencies have statutory authority to use the design-build model and other agencies will benefit, Murphy said. Lawmakers considered the New Jersey Schools Development Authority’s experience with the model when drafting the bill, according to Murphy.
Oroho said the new procedure will expedite contract awards and reduce costs.
“In New Jersey, with some of the highest taxes in the nation, it is a good thing when the legislature and governor agree on a way to cut taxes without reducing services,” Oroho said.
Assembly Democrats Louis Greenwald, D-Camden/Burlington, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, D-Hudson, and Bill Moen, D-Camden/Gloucester also praised the law.
“This will make the process more organized and cohesive across the board,” they said in a statement. “Now more than ever, we must explore ways to boost government efficiency, reduce spending and save taxpayer dollars.”