Aiming for the construction management trifecta: on-budget, on-time, on-scope

Share this post

CAP Canal Construction Project

The best laid plans often go awry. Cliché, perhaps, but anyone who has done a construction project in their home likely can relate with unexpected expenses, delays and additional work. 

To avoid this situation, CAP’s project management team utilizes alternative project delivery methods when procuring professional services. In layman’s terms, this means CAP can select a contractor for a job based on more than just the low bid; it’s one of the tools that help keep construction projects on-budget, on-time and on-scope.

You may wonder why there are any construction projects at CAP since the system was completely constructed from 1973-1993. In this case, construction is defined by state procurement statutes as the process of building, altering, repairing, improving, or demolishing any public structure or building or other public improvements of any kind to any real property.  Construction does not include the routine operation, routine repair or routine maintenance of existing facilities, structures, buildings or other real property.  Some smaller construction may be done with CAP’s internal teams. However, if the project cost estimate exceeds approximately $30,000, CAP is legally obligated to outsource the work, following guidelines set forth in Title 34 of Arizona Revised Statutes and CAP’s procurement policy.

There are four methods that are currently allowed by statute when selecting a construction contractor. CAP’s engineering project management team assesses which method is most appropriate for the type of project going out for bid.

Design, Bid, Build

This method is based solely on cost and the lowest responsible bidder is awarded the contract. This is a great method for a straightforward project such as earthen work; however, if it’s a complicated project, slight changes during the project can escalate costs, making it a less desirable option for more complicated projects with outage constraints or unknown conditions.

Job Order Contract (JOC)

In this method, contractors submit competitive bids to perform work during a set contract length and scope. The contractor is selected based primarily on qualifications and price and once the contract is open, task orders are issued against the main contract to define cost and duration for specific jobs. This method is a good option for ongoing, smaller construction projects where timeliness is critical and contractor input is needed to define the scope. An example would be a renovation being done on a bathroom to make it ADA compliant.


Design-Build is a qualifications-based method that awards the contract to one team, a design-build team. That team is responsible for all design and construction services. In this method, construction can begin prior to full completion of design since the contractor is responsible for risks of both design and construction. CAP rarely uses this method because our projects lend themselves to a more progressive approach, particularly in the design portion of the project.

Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR)

CMAR is a qualification-based method where CAP awards one contract to a designer and a separate contract to the builder. Although the designer and construction contractors are selected separately, the construction contractor can provide valuable input and early procurement on the project during the design process, creating an expert team between the design consultant, the contractor, and CAP employees. This method is fully collaborative and is used the majority of the time for CAP construction projects.

Prior to contract award, construction projects below $300,000 are typically approved by CAP’s General Manager; projects above that are approved by the CAWCD Board of Directors. The result is a more transparent process where project schedule, budget and scope are achievable goals.

Information on CAP construction projects that are currently out for bids can be found here.

Reliability Icon

KRA: Project Reliability

Providing reliable and cost-effective operations, maintenance, and replacement of CAP infrastructure and technology assets

Learn more about CAP’s eight Key Result Areas (KRAs)