The Bucks Stop Here: Bringing Value to the GSA

By doubling the speed of delivery for courthouses in Bakersfield, California, and Billings, Montana, NBBJ helped the GSA make the most of scant resources and save taxpayers’ money.

In today’s troubled economy, government spending is under a fiscal microscope, and people’s faith in the ability of public works to be delivered without cost overruns and delays is at an all-time low. In response, the GSA — the General Services Administration, the agency tasked with developing and managing federal property — has taken steps to design and deliver projects that guarantee on-time delivery without sacrificing quality.

In 2009, the GSA received $750 million in funds for federal building renovations and new building construction. In an effort to responsibly steward taxpayer dollars, the GSA developed a groundbreaking Design Excellence, Design-Build fixed-price competition process. NBBJ won the first two of these competitions and set a high bar for performance.

Those two projects in California and Montana are now making headlines for aggressively shortening the time it takes to design and build government buildings. In fact, the Bakersfield and Billings courthouses were completed in 30 and 27 months respectively, making the two projects the fastest courthouses ever built in modern history.

The melding of high-tech and low-tech solutions created buildings of high quality, while delivering significant savings. The Bakersfield courthouse alone came in $2.5 million under budget and the Billings courthouse six months ahead of schedule. Energy conservation strategies incorporated into the design ensure ongoing cost savings by using 45 percent less energy than comparable buildings.

By ramping up our use of building information modeling, working closely with subcontractors to align design intent with budget during the early concept phase, and increasing the collaboration between the GSA, design, engineering and construction partners, we’ve taken a significant step toward modernizing the nation’s infrastructure.

Our design process ensures that the final project will come in at a reasonable cost — while at the same time reducing the federal government’s consumption of energy and water and increasing the use of clean and renewable sources of energy.