Request for Proposal (RFP)
Active September 10, 2007

IPRF Project 01-G-002-06-1

Using Design Build Acquisition for Concrete Airfield Pavements



There have been several design-build (D/B) airfield concrete pavement construction projects for the US Air Force working through the US Army Corps of Engineers.  The experience to date leads some people involved in the execution of the D/B project / program management to have concern about a possibility of early deterioration of pavements because of the appearance that the design is anchored on the lowest initial cost.  The inference is that the D/B team cut corners.

In response, individuals that participate on the D/B team(s) suggest that lower initial cost is the result of innovation and coordination between the designer and the builder.  Gold plating is removed.  Minimums are the norm for design options instead of elective excess.

As a result of the D/B experience by the Air Force and Navy, the Department of Defense (DoD) developed acquisition criteria for D/B projects (UFC 3-260-11FA, Model Design Build Request for Proposals for Airfield Contracts).  How are the acquisition criteria different than that used for the traditional design–bid–build process?  Is the criteria directive and stifling of innovation?  Is the process used by the DoD to acquire D/B packages applicable for use by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)? 

The merits and deficiencies of the D/B concept, as applied to the construction of airfield concrete pavement, must be documented and outstanding questions answered using facts garnered from past projects.  There is also a need for a critique of guidance that has evolved to date and publication of a document that will guide airport owners, designers and contractors as to “Best Practices” when using D/B acquisition.

A “Best Practices” document provides a summary of how it is done and how it can be improved.  “Best Practices” is not how to do it; but, it is a summary of practices, based upon empirical experience, that result in satisfactory applications of the tenants.  A “Best Practices” document clearly explains the pitfalls that can be experienced when accomplishing airfield construction for new and existing concrete pavements using design - build concepts.


  • The experience of the DoD to date is that the D/B acquisition, when applied to concrete airfield pavement projects, results in economic and construction time advantages.  Document the economic and time advantages, or disadvantages, of projects similar in scope but accomplished using D/B versus design-bid-build acquisition. 
  • D/B has a successful history of acquisition for vertical construction.  There are also claims of economic advantage. However, not all vertical construction is accomplished using D/B.  Develop a template that can be used to define what concrete airfield pavement projects can be accomplished using D/B, with expected economic and time advantages, and which projects should not be considered for D/B acquisition.
  • Document the level of detail that must be provided by an Owner to acquire a D/B contractor.  Is there a minimum threshold as to how much detail must be provided?  Document the “best practice” for a D/B acquisition.  
  • Document the myths and realities about the D/B scenario applied to concrete airfield pavement projects.
  • Define how the Owner is given assurance, as a part of the D/B process, that the final product meets requirements and expectations.


There are claims of economic and time advantages when D/B acquisition is used.   If that is true, why does design-build result in lower cost?  Is there a lower construction cost, or have costs been shifted to other budgets and thereby giving the appearance of a lower cost? How is the cost advantage gained when D/B acquisition is used?  Can the apparent cost advantage be documented for D/Band design-bid-build for similar projects? 

If the cost advantage exists, why are not all construction projects accomplished using D/B?  The implication is that some projects are suited to accomplishment by D/B and others by traditional design – bid – build.  What makes a project suited to D/B?  What are the characteristics of those projects that are suited to D/B?  What are the characteristics of projects that are not suited to D/B acquisition?  Can a template be developed?  If a template can be developed, can a common “SOW” be developed that could provide guidance to the owner for using the D/B acquisition with assurance that expectations will be satisfied?

How does the level of effort and cost required for preparing the acquisition document for D/B compare to the development of design-bid-build documents?

There are those people that have concluded that the D/B acquisition promotes poor construction.  As an example, the design engineer may have the opinion that they are removed from the decision process because they are sub-contractors to the general contractor, just like the pavement saw cut and sealing trade.  Who is the final authority as to selection of available options such as materials?  Does the design engineer marry the construction requirements to the contractor abilities, or, does the Contractor insist that the design engineer endorse poor decisions that result in latent defects of construction?  Are there other myths and realities that require an explanation?

Under the FAA grant process, the engineer of record provides assurance that the finished product complies with the standards that were developed for the project.  An airport owner relies on the engineer of record to assure the FAA that standards are met or exceeded.  An independent testing laboratory is used to develop the data that is used to determine acceptance of the built product.  This level of assurance does not fit in the D/B acquisition.  How does the DoD attain assurance from the D/B Contractor?  Can a third party assurance be effective in a D/B acquisition? How can the Owner be given the assurance that is expected with respect to materials and final product performance?  How would the assurance provisions of an FAA Grant be modified when D/B acquisition is used?


The primary objective of the research is to develop answers to the outstanding questions and subsequently provide a document that provides guidance to an end user.  Answers to the questions would be available to the industry in the form of an IPRF report supplemented with (1) a template that would be used by an owner to define the attributes of projects that could be accomplished using D/B acquisition; and, (2) A guide to the use of D/B concepts for the acquisition of D/B airfield concrete pavements projects. The guide must be applicable to the industry.  A document specific to the FAA may also be required.

The report will document interviews, lessons learned, and performance evaluation for airfield pavement projects constructed using D/B acquisition. The report will include a critique of current published guidance. The report will be written for use by an owner, engineer, specifier, contractor, and contract inspector. The document should be written, and supplemented with supporting documents, that would allow use as an education / training guide and as a criteria document that will assist the airport industry in the application of D/B acquisition for airfield pavement rehabilitation and construction.   

The investigator will provide the original publication(s), in two copies, in a camera ready format including artwork, graphics and photos.  In addition, all documents and supplementary items will be submitted in an electronic format compatible with off-the-shelf desktop computer publication software.  The investigator will not be responsible for the reproduction and printing of the final document(s) but will assist with minor editing requirements generated by the printing and reproduction.

The investigator will develop sub-tasks that when completed will result in completion of the project within the time and budget allowed.  It is not necessary that the proposal reflect the exact budget or the planned time.  However, any deviation from the designated resources must be justified and clearly explained in the proposal. 

The following are the minimum tasks considered necessary to successfully accomplish the project.

Task 1 – Literature Review.  Examine existing literature to determine what documents are applicable to this project and what information is documented.  Determine “where are the holes” in the information available that is to be used to guide the research for this project.  Produce a document that provides a summary of the literature review findings.  Identify D/B projects that have been accomplished by private industry that fall within the D/B acquisition concept.

Task 2 – D/B Project Identification and Screening.    The IPRF will provide the Principal Investigator (PI), subsequent to project contract award, a list of D/B US Air Force, Navy and/or Corps of Engineer projects that are complete or in progress.  The PI will screen the projects and subsequently recommended projects for case study.  The case study recommendations will be provided to the Technical Panel for review and concur.  Supplement the list of military projects with those identified by the research from private industry or experience from State Department of Transportation.  For budgeting purposes, the total number of projects for screening should be estimated at 15.  The projects selected for case study should be assumed to be at least six (6).

IMPORTANT: A written survey will not be accomplished to determine the characteristics of D/B projects selected for screening.  A survey is defined as the random distribution of a standard list of questions that seek trends or forecasting information. The use of such surveys must receive approval through the IPRF from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  That process requires a minimum of 90 days from the date of application for the survey approval.  The 90 day approval period is not included in the time designated as the performance period.  The investigator is encouraged to use a means other than “survey” to identify the candidate projects.

Task 3 – Document a Research Plan and Develop an Outline.  Develop an outline of the end product(s) and specifically include in that outline those items that the research team defines as “critical issues.”  Develop a plan for doing research that will fill the “holes” in available information. Define where information will come from and propose a list of airfields or State Highway projects where “lessons learned” can be garnered.  Define how cost information will be developed.  Define how “performance” will be measured.  The definition of performance, as applied to the concrete pavement, will not include condition surveys of existing pavements by the research team.  If condition surveys are available from the Owner, the data may be used as a qualitative identifier but not as a performance standard.  Pavement conditions are subject to other distress due to environment, loading and level of maintenance.  Those variables should be excluded from the D/B evaluation criteria.  Exception would be allowed if interviews and project documents are evidentiary support of sub-standard construction or materials.

Task 4 – On-Board Review.  Present the information from Task 1, 2 and 3 to the IPRF Technical Panel.  The Technical panel will provide comments on the intent established by the products presented.  The research team will incorporate comments in the future work, identify where change in scope requirements exist, and be responsible for the documentation of comments received.  This is designated as the 20% review.  The research team will not proceed to Task 5 without written approval of the IPRF.

An on-board review.  An on-board review must be scheduled at least 30 days prior to the actual meeting.  Documents that are prepared for technical panel review must be provided at least 30 days prior to the meeting.  The location of the meeting will be coordinated with the IPRF.  The investigator is responsible for preparing the minutes of the meeting and the disposition of the comments of IPRF Technical Panel members.

Task 5 – Implement the Approved Research Plan.  Validate the assumptions made during development of the outline.  Schedule visits to appropriate locations for those locations selected to be included in the report as case studies.  Accomplish interviews with the owner, D/B management team, technical representative of the Contracting Officer, and management officials at levels above those directly involved in the project.  Perform a critique of the information gathered, as a result of project records review and interviews with key people, with the assumptions used to develop the outline of the final report.  Examine construction records when information is available without undue searching.  Cost data should be extracted from programming documents and actual expenditures where documents can be examined without extensive searching for documents.

Task 6 – Draft Report and Supplemental Materials.  The products of the research should be developed into a draft report and supplemental documents. The draft report will evolve as Task 5 is in progress.  Formulate plausible answers to questions, draft outlines for the “Template” and the guide to the implementation of D/B acquisition.  The draft products are to be submitted for review by the Technical Panel before the completion of Task 5 but after initial concepts or conclusions of the findings can be presented.  The research team is expected to define issues that need to be fully discussed and make recommendations on policy decisions prior to the completion of Task 5.  The intent is to allow for the Technical Panel to correct the course of the research before the resources are fully expended.  Additional research or information gathering may be required as a result of a 60% review.

An on-board review will be accomplished.  An on-board review must be scheduled at least 30 days prior to the actual meeting.  Documents that are prepared for technical panel review must be provided at least 30 days prior to the meeting.  The location of the meeting will be coordinated with the IPRF.  The investigator is responsible for documenting the comments of IPRF Technical Panel members and the disposition of each comment.

Task 7 – Draft Final Report.  Make corrections to the 60% products and submit the Draft final products to the IPRF.    Include in the report all artwork, graphical presentations, format, etc.  The document shall be in a form that for all intent is complete with the exception of final comments made by the technical panel.  This is designated as the 90% report.   

An on-board review is optional.  The review of the final draft report and supporting items will be a desk top review accomplished by the IPRF Technical Panel.  The panel may determine that an on-board review is required because of content of the final draft.  Written comments by the Technical Panel will be provided to the research team within 30 days of receipt of the Draft Final Report.  The investigator is responsible for documenting the comments of IPRF Technical Panel members and the disposition of each comment.

Task 8 – Final Report.  Make corrections to the 90% document and submit the final documents.  Assist the IPRF with editorial changes, minor format corrections or other editing necessary for publication of the final report.

Products Summary:

  1. The final product will be an IPRF Report that documents the research and presents the findings.  There will be at least two supplements to the final report.  Those supplements include a (1) Template that can be used to determine if a particular project is suitable for D/B acquisition; (2) A guide for the industry in implementing D/B acquisition to concrete airfield pavement rehabilitation and construction; and, (3) Documents specific to the FAA and the Department of Defense for D/B acquisition.  The report will be submitted as two original documents and one copy in electronic media compatible with conventional desktop publishing systems. 
  2. The summary report of the literature search, the airfield candidate case study list and the research plan.  Submit 8 copies.  This is defined as the 20% level of completion.  The investigator will host the meeting.  Location will be determined in coordination with the IPRF.  Submit in electronic format the list of proposed airports to be included in visits and the reason for the selection of the individual airport.
  3. Submit a summary report (8 copies) for 60% review. The review will be accomplished as an on-board meeting at a location to be determined.  The investigator will host the meeting.  Location will be determined in coordination with the IPRF.
  4. Submit the Advanced Final draft (8 copies) for the 90% review.  Comments will be returned to the research team, or the research team will be prepared to have an on-board review with the Technical Panel.
  5. Final report and supplemental materials.  (two hard copies and one electronic copy).

Other Considerations and specific requirements.

  1. The investigator is responsible for the preparation of quarterly reports that describe the progress of the research effort.  Reports are due in the offices of the IPRF on the last day of the fiscal year quarter.  The reports will be limited to two pages in a format specified by the IPRF.  The first page will be a word document describing the progress of the work.  The second page will provide a summary of the estimated resource expenditures versus the costs incurred to date.
  2. There will be a minimum of 6 concrete airfield projects used for case studies.
  3. The research will include a critique of current publications used by regulatory agencies for D/B acquisition.  As a minimum,

    a. Critique of Federal Aviation Administration Order 5100.38C, June 28, 2005, paragraph 931.
    b. Department of Defense, Unified Facilities Criteria, 3-260-11FA, 25 May 2005, Model Design-Build Request for Proposal for Airfield Contracts.

  4. One of the participants on the research team will have experience in Government Contracting and acquisition.  This experience should include both military and FAA funded programs.
  5. At least one of the case studies selected for publication should reflect the lessons learned and experiences of people involved in a project where things did not work as expected or numerous problems resulted in an unpleasant experience for at least one of the stakeholders in a D/B project.  All case studies will be based upon actual projects but the report will be silent as to the people or entities involved.  It is not the responsibility of the research team to determine what was good or bad with respect to a specific project.  Facts are to be collected and the findings reported without attribution.

After the technical panel completes the evaluation of proposals, each of the proposals will be rank ordered.  The organization, group, or individual that is ranked as the first and second choice for the recommendation to award may be asked to participate in a telephone interview.  The Principal Investigator, and one other person, representing the entity ranked first and second choice, will be asked to discuss the project details, goals, and objectives as a part of the interview.  The interview will occur within a 45-day window subsequent to the proposal submittal deadline. 


Persons preparing proposals are urged to review the following documents to be sure that there is a full understanding of IPRF procedures and requirements.  Proposals must be prepared in the format specified in the instruction documents.  The proposal will be submitted as one (1) original and 9 copies.

The documents required to aide in the preparation of the proposal include:

PDF files require Acrobat Reader to view.



PROJECT DIRECTOR: Mr. Jim Lafrenz, P.E., (785) 742-6900, (


PROPOSAL DUE DATE: November 9, 2007 not later than 4:00PM (CST)


Proposals will be delivered to:
Innovative Pavement Research Foundation
Cooperative Programs Office, Attn:  Jim Lafrenz
201 Shawnee Street
Hiawatha, KS 66434
Ph: (785) 742-6900
Fax: (785) 742-6908

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