Business (Managing K-12 Education)
Job Order Contracting
- By Dwayne G. Pierre-Antoine
- February 1st, 2017
PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDIAN
Construction in and of itself is a complex work process. Focus in on construction work for education
facilities and you are faced with an entirely unique set of
complications and challenges.
Campus projects are never ending. From the larger projects
such as gym floor replacements, cafeteria renovations, library
upgrades, etc., to the everyday maintenance, repairs and
replacement projects, there is always something on the horizon.
Traditional competitive bidding for these projects is generally
extremely time-consuming and costly. And for the relatively
small projects, there may be a disproportionate procurement
burden relative to job size and scope.
Educational facilities also have to deal with the challenge of accessing
qualified contractors due to K-12 institutions all being on
the same cycle. During peak construction periods this can be especially
problematic. Not to mention, education facilities often face
tight deadlines. A project is usually only possible in the summer
months when the bulk of students are on break. When working
in a condensed time line, delays and back and forth negotiations
cannot be afforded. If the project cannot be completed within this
specific window it may not get past the planning phase.
Enter Job Order Contracting, a unique indefinite quantity
procurement process. During traditional bidding, each project
is identified, designed and subsequently put out to bid. In
contrast, Job Order Contracting allows you to put readily available
contractors in place on a substantial number of projects
with one, competitively bid contract. No more bidding each
job separately. The Job Order Contracting process is ideal for
small to medium-sized, straightforward repairs and renovations.
Typical projects range from emergency plumbing repair,
energy-efficient lighting and HVAC upgrades to classroom, lab
and residence hall renovations.
The process is relatively straight forward. Contractors bid
an adjustment factor that will be applied to a catalog of tasks with preset unit prices — this catalog is
developed via local labor rates, material
and equipment costs. From there, Job
Order Contracts are awarded to the lowest,
responsive and responsible bidder(s).
The contractor can then perform a variety
of projects by being paid the preset unit
price, multiplied by the quantity ordered,
multiplied by the competitively bid
adjustment factor. No need for further
PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDIAN
It is understood up front that the owner
is under no obligation to give the contractor
more work; therefore, the contractor
is motivated to provide timely work of the
A Study in Procurement
For two decades the Arizona State
University’s Performance Based Studies
Research Group set out to analyze the
performance and value of the Job Order
Contracting process resulting in the 2015 Job
Order Contracting Performance study which
measured the performance, satisfaction of
results and economic impact of the procurement
process. Forty seven owner companies
and 13 contractors representing $5 billion in
construction projects were surveyed.
An aspect of the study worth noting
was the realization that 99 percent of the
owner respondents would recommend
Job Order Contracting to other owners.
Further, 96 percent of Job Order Contracting
projects were completed with satisfactory
The study discovered 91 percent of Job
Order Contracting projects are delivered on
budget and 87 percent of these projects are
delivered on time. To give perspective, taking
in the construction industry as a whole,
only 2.5 percent of all global projects are
delivered on time and on budget.
Owners responded that transparency
is 30 percent higher during Job Order Contracting
projects, and they also believe the
process is 76 percent more flexible. Owners
further estimated 24 percent in administrative
The study also identified a few best
practices when implementing Job Order
Contracting that included:
- ensuring use of a detailed unit price book
in bidding documents,
- selecting the highest performing contractors,
- encouraging early involvement of contractors
in developing a detailed scope
Job Order Contracting in Action
One of the key qualities of Job Order
Contracting is its flexibility. This is one of
the reasons the method was implemented
when the NYC Department of Education
joined with the NYC Department
of Environmental Protection to remove
around 5,000 inefficient toilets from
schools around the city to be repurposed
as a productive bed of oysters in Jamaica
Bay. This project was intended to serve
duel purposes in helping to purify the
water in the bay with the aim of saving up
to 4 million gallons of water a day with the
installment of new low-flow toilets in place
of the removed inefficient fixtures.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDIAN
Before & After. Administrators at Dover High
School, in Dover, N.J., decided that they needed
to provide a more “college atmosphere” for their
students. Part of the project involved an outdated
hallway that needed a complete overhaul to
help fit this new look. The project needed to be
completed over the course of the summer break
before the return of students in the fall. Dover
Public Schools implemented a Job Order Contracting
program via a cooperative purchasing
network that allowed them to access qualified,
competitively awarded contractors who could
immediately start on the work, which included
updating wall tiles, paint and flooring as well as
the replacement of an old water fountain with a
modern and more mature design.
This was a complex project that
involved 500 of the largest Department of
Education buildings throughout all five
boroughs. After surveying these buildings, it was determined about 30,000 fixtures
were inefficient and prime to be replaced.
Once the project was underway, contractors
needed to work around the students’ schedules.
With the help of funding from the
Department of Environmental Protection,
the Department of Education used a preexisting
Job Order Contracting program to
carry out the labor with a minimal impact
on the students’ daily classwork on top of
not affecting the day-to-day maintenance
resources. Once the inefficient structures
were removed, the porcelain was broken
up, cleaned and subsequently repurposed
into an oyster reef within the bay.
Due to the intricacies of the job, in all
likelihood this project would have been
unattainable without Job Order Contracting.
That said, Job Order Contracting can
still be ideal for the more straightforward
jobs facing K-12 institutions.
Take Dover High School. They sought
to provide a more “college atmosphere” for
their students. Specifically, an outdated
hallway needed a complete overhaul to help
fit this new look. The project needed to be
completed over the course of the summer
break before the return of students in the
fall. On top of this narrow deadline, the
project had an inflexible budget. Once it
was deemed that the traditional construction
procurement process would make the
project unfeasible, Dover Public Schools
implemented a Job Order Contracting program
via a cooperative purchasing network
that allowed them to access qualified, competitively
awarded contractors who could
immediately start on the work.
The project was identified Apr. 23,
construction started July 13 and by Sept.
6 construction was completed in time for
the incoming students while remaining
on budget. Work included updating wall
tiles, paint and flooring as well as the
replacement of an old water fountain with a
modern and more mature design.
Construction work for K-12 facilities faces
a seemingly unending number of expected
(and unexpected) obstacles. Through streamlining
the process and optimizing the surrounding
environment, Job Order Contracting
can play an essential role in helping face down
those potentially devastating obstacles.
If a project fits the criteria for Job Order
Contracting, the potential for time and money
savings is a reality. This will mean more
projects can be put on the schedule rather
than be pushed out to a later date waiting for
the right time and adequate funding. The
result will be a better learning environment
for students and faculty alike.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.