Transition From Traditional To Alternative Project Delivery Methods in Water and Wastewater Project: Executive Decision-Makers' Perspective

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Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the barriers and constraints executive decision-makers have to face during the delivery method selection stage of water and wastewater projects using alternative project delivery (APD) methods, e.g. design-build (DB), design-build-operate (DBO) and construction management-at-risk (CMAR). Design/methodology/approach: Structured interviews were conducted with 18 executive decision-makers from public agencies to identify the reasons for transitioning to APD from the design-bid-build (DBB) method. Respondents were also asked about the major obstacles they faced during the decision-making process, as well as key positive and negative factors in using APD methods. The executive decision-makers were also asked about their lessons learned during this process. In addition, this study collected key steps in making APD water and wastewater projects successful. All of the findings from the interview phase were validated by seven public agency executive decision-makers of water and wastewater industries. Findings: One major study finding was that executive decision-makers chose the APD method because it provided cost and schedule benefits and the owner could also choose the designer or builder based on qualifications. The study also found that the main obstacles executive decision-makers faced were: (1) difficulty in implementing APD methods because they do not follow the low-bid process, (2) reluctance to use DB/CMAR because of the status quo and (3) unfamiliarity of city councils/elected commissions with the DB/CMAR process. The validation survey found that most findings from the initial phase of interviews were confirmed by the executives who took part in validation phase. Research limitations/implications: The major limitation of this research is the small sample size. As the executive decision-makers are very hard to reach for interviews, the authors failed to get interviews from a large number of them, despite repeated efforts made by the authors. Another limitation of this study is that the authors contacted most of the executive decision-makers listed in the WDBC list. These executive decision-makers worked for public agencies and, therefore, the views from private agencies could not be included in this research. The authors understand that the validation of the study findings is very important. However, due to the scope and limited time available for the research, the authors could not validate the findings of this study with other public agencies. Practical implications: Selecting APD methods instead of DBB methods in water and wastewater projects for public agencies is a crucial issue during the project planning phase. Agencies' executive decision-makers need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of APD methods, along with the transition process in order to smoothly deliver projects. The findings of this study will assist public agency executive decision-makers to mitigate risks, overcome obstacles and become more educated about the APD method process, so that these projects can be successfully delivered within budget and on time. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the existing body of knowledge by identifying lessons learned related to various APD method issues, which can be utilized by municipal executive decision-makers to successfully complete future APD projects.


Construction manager-at-risk; Design-bid-build; Design-build; Design-build-operate; Lessons learned; Water and wastewater projects


Construction Engineering and Management | Water Resource Management



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