SAME and DBIA Host Federal Owners’ Forum

DBIA and SAME co-hosted the second Federal Owners’ Forum on May 4, 2017, bringing together 11 procurement professionals from eight federal agencies to discuss project delivery. DBIA’s Executive Director Lisa Washington, CAE, and Brig. Gen. Joe Schroedel, P.E., F.SAME, USA (Ret.), Executive Director of SAME, opened the forum with welcome remarks. Thom Kurmel facilitated the forum and was accompanied by graphic recorder, Greg Gersch, who captured the day through imagery of discussion points as they were being made by attendees.

Project Delivery and procurement work together. In an effort to improve collaboration, attendees scrutinized the design-build and design-bid-build processes to identify challenges and possible solutions. They utilized a list of concerns that came from the previous year’s forum. During the talks, new ideas were compiled from the group and categorized into “What Works,” “What Challenges You,” and “Possible Solutions.”


When it comes to preparing for contract awards these federal owners have great practices in place. For example, many use  a checklist of preliminary documents and include the statement of work to help potential bidders prepare. They often host an industry day where companies can ask questions prior to the RFP and they allow time for comments from industry with the intent to incorporate feedback where possible. When they are ready to begin accepting bids, some organizations use a template to create their RFP. Another tool used by some is RS Means software for cost validation. As agencies near the award of a contract is important to review all subcontractor and teaming agreements prior to making a decision.


On the opposite side of things done well, there are many areas of contention. Almost every rep present (except the Architect of the Capitol, who is exempt) agreed that FAR/DFARS interpretation can weigh heavily on a contract. Likewise, a culture of risk aversion instead of risk management can add unnecessary restrictions which could limit proposals. Other obstacles include looming protests, inconsistent practices within agencies, as well as overwhelming paperwork from RFIs, change orders, the DATA ACT and project completion.


In closing, the group agreed more training on the FAR, procurement process and construction contracting could positively impact project delivery. They plan to compile their comments on the CPAR, distribute details of the forum, and ask for feedback from senior level officials within their respective communities. Another goal is participation from legal personnel in an upcoming forum. At the end of the day, each representative gave an overview of what they learned from colleagues and what they look forward to achieving from the meeting. Overall, the outcomes will offer the potential for further success.


Established in 1993, the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) is the only organization that defines, teaches and promotes best practices in design-build project delivery. Design-build is an integrated approach that delivers design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility. Owners select design-build to achieve best value while meeting schedule, cost and quality goals. For more information on DBIA, visit

Founded in 1920 out of the need to harness the technical engineering lessons and camaraderie shared during battlefield experiences in World War I, SAME has grown to more than 28,000 members and 1,500 Sustaining Member companies, public agencies and academic institutions—representing the military and public sector engineering community, as well as the architecture, engineering and construction industry. SAME provides extensive opportunities for training, education and professional development through a robust offering of conferences, workshops, forums, networking events, webinars, and publications. For more information, visit