Seminar Highlight: Rob Garner, The Gordian Group

ContractWhat is Job Order Contracting?

In 1981, Harry H. Mellon was serving as Chief Engineer in the Army Corps of Engineers for NATO operations in Europe. Faced with a number of high-priority projects that needed to be completed quickly with limited resources, he became frustrated with the sluggishness of the standard bid process for construction. So he invented a new process by devising, bidding, and implementing the first ever JOC system. By definition, JOC is a type of contract that allows owners to accomplish a large number of repair, maintenance, and construction projects with a single, competitively bid contract.

After JOC proved successful for NATO, Mellon was asked to do the same for the Department of Defense. When he realized the process was not only effective at the federal level, but cities and counties would benefit as well, Mellon founded The Gordian Group. Currently, The Gordian Group is working on the San Francisco International Airport project and in the bay area as a consulting firm specializing in JOC Management.

Project Manager Rob Garner explains the benefits of the JOC process: “JOC has always fit a niche. It allows a city or county to be more efficient and complete critical projects quickly, without having to go through the design process. The only information required is what is permitted. So for smaller projects like changing doors or hardware or doing a remodel, installing security – any of a thousand things – the city or county isn’t obligated to go through the long process of hiring an architect or design team. There are tremendous savings in both time and soft costs for those that are pressed to perform under these kinds of constraints.”

Often, JOC projects can seem intimidating to prime and subcontractors because of the many steps involved to qualify. Companies like The Gordian Group are there to help decipher the contracts that are based on each city’s administrative codes. “Developing the bid package and maintaining integrity of the process is one of our primary goals,” says Gardner. “We research, manage and publish the task catalog. For a client in the construction process, there could be 300,000 standard difficulty bid factors to our catalog prices.”

To become more informed and prepared to bid on JOC projects, contractors and sub-contractors are encouraged to participate in outreach programs. When pre-bids are mandatory, contractors benefit from completing upfront analysis of the programs. In pre-bids, The Gordian Group helps explain the risk and rewards of JOC. “It’s not a new process, but not everyone understands it,” Gardner adds. “We would love to see an auditorium filled with people learning about how they can benefit from JOC.”

There are some clear advantages for contractors and sub-contractors bidding on JOC contracts. It’s all about growth. Since these are smaller projects, pre approved contractors perform like on-call resources, ready to execute quickly on fixed-price projects. Since the JOC model doesn’t rely on design components the way conventional contracts do, contractors complete multiple smaller jobs that roll up into the overall value of their contract. Of course, contractors must perform high-quality work in order to continue receiving projects. However, it is typical that those contractors and sub-contractors who become very proficient at JOC also become very successful in growing their business, often developing whole teams devoted to JOC. As a result, projects get completed quickly, fairly, and at a high quality level so that everyone wins.

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