#ncga: circling the wagons, trying to pass off cronyism as “conservative”, giving the A/E cartel a “pass”

Senate Rules Committee chairman Bill Rabon took a hit from WBTV’s Nick Ochsner the only member of the capitol press corps worth a damn — and Bob Rucho was not happy:

First of all, it’s a shame that Rucho has taken the four-year old-on-the-playground route.  Mocking someone’s last name.  Really?  (Talk about unbecoming for an elder statesman.) 

Second — the NC Senate is not an employment agency.  Neither is state government.  Conservatives should be focused on cutting regulations and backing government out of our lives so we can be free to make the best choices possible for ourselves and our families.  THIS is handing out goodies to friends and campaign contributors — just like Thom Tillis’s I-77 toll road — at our expense. 

misses the bigger picture.  The architect and engineer lobby has used its political pull to craft state regulations and laws to ensure perpetual job security.  The current competitive bid process for government construction projects is set up to enrich the designers and shut out any sort of cost-savings like design-build.  Design-build is growing in popularity in the private sector.

In competitive bid projects, the architects and engineers dream up something intheir head and put it on paper.  That paper then goes out for bids.  The cost ends up being whatever the competitive bidders come back with.  And the designers get SIX PERCENT or more of the final cost.  No matter if it is $100,000 or $100 million.  There is little to no incentive to keep the cost down.  And most architects and engineers have little to no training on construction cost estimating.

With design-build, the architects, engineers, and builder all work as a team from the very beginning.  They have an understanding of what the client’s budget is from the very beginning.  And they work together to put somethng on paper that fits that budget.  That team is responsible for keeping things within budget.  There is no finger-pointing because all parties were in on the discussions from the beginning.

Nick’s story also highlights some firms marking up their bills by 136% or more.  Outrageous state and federal regulations on the construction industry — RED TAPE – almost make stuff like that a necessity to avoid losing your shirt building a government project. 

The architect / engineer (A/E) lobby has lined a lot of pockets in Raleigh to ensure stuff like design-build will not get anywhere near state construction projects.  State law does not allow for licensed architects to either work for a construction firm or even own a financial stake in a construction company.  (They can contract as a consultant with a construction firm.)  Never mind that design-build projects regularly end up being more cost-effective than competitive bidding.  A lot of PAC money is being spent to keep a lot of architect and engineer firms afloat and feeding at the government teat.

If you really want to save money, open things up to allow for more design-build in government projects.  But – with a VP of a major architecture firm that has made a killing off of state government over the years sitting in the lieutenant governor’s chair — I won’t hold my breath waiting for that.  

2 thoughts on “#ncga: circling the wagons, trying to pass off cronyism as “conservative”, giving the A/E cartel a “pass”

  1. Mr. Rucho’s comment that thousands of new private sector jobs have been created putting North Carolinians back to work is both insulting and alarming. He has no consideration for the thousands of State Employee jobs lost in the process. The net effect is zero. So this is all about ideology without regard to reason or any cost/benefit analysis. This implies that a private sector job is more important and valuable than a State employee job. This is an extreme insult to the many dedicated State employees who have loyally served the State of NC in spite of declining benefits and minimal wage increases. And the bottleneck idea is way over blown and there has not been money left on the table due to the lack of projects being completed and ready for construction. The project delivery process is very complicated and involves myriad of stakeholders including but not limited to those in the human, environmental and social arena. Sure there are ways to make the process more efficient and that is an ongoing objective but to try to accelerate the process without any regard to negative impacts and premium costs is irresponsible and a missuse of public funding. And in response to Rabon’s assertions that DOT has not given him any cost data refuting his privatization plan the upper management team that was put in place agrees with him in ideology. Upper management employees were fired or demoted and replaced when there was any push back given or someone did not rush to abide by Rabons orders. Look at Tony Tata’s position as an example. When Mr. Tata wanted to proceed in a thoughtful way toward privatization he was removed from office. How much effort is going to be made to do a benefit/cost analysis when the upper management team has the exact same ideology. What a beautiful way to stack the deck and then to use it against State government. Requests made to DOT by Rabin were for plans to reduce the number of DOT employees as quickly as possible and there were no requests were made for a benefit/cost analysis because Rabon’s mind was already made up when he came into office based on his ideology. To site another example when the Structures Management Unti was not eliminating positions as fast as Rabon’s committee felt they should have there were individual employee position number listed in the budget which was not legal and this secured a Rabon’s aggressive and adversarial objectives.

Comments are closed.