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The Daily Tar Heel

State Grants UNC Building Policy Exemption

The current law states that any state building project must have separate bids from individual contractors. The law was designed to assure fair bidding practices among small and large construction companies and empower subcontractors.

UNC-system officials might eventually have to petition the commission for all 300 construction projects to be exempt.

They argued that the "multi-prime contractor" law will slow down the construction process and cause unnecessary complications with the numerous projects that will take place on state campuses following the passage of the $3.1 billion bond package.

Campus officials hope to complete the 300 construction and renovation projects on the 16 UNC-system campuses by 2006.

"The current method of construction procurement presents an undue managerial burden on in-house campus project managers and jeopardizes its successful completion," Jeff Davies, UNC vice president of finance, told the commission.

Commission member Norman Whitaker asked how the state will keep control of the project if a construction manager works directly with contractors instead of the state and universities.

UNC-system officials said contractors must put up a bond to serve as an insurance that the work will be completed to their satisfaction and on time.

Another commission member, John Feezor, expressed concern that UNC officials might be taking the wrong course of action by petitioning the commission. "Have you asked the General Assembly to give special legislation instead of coming here and going over 300 projects?"

But Davies argued that officials have looked at alternative means, even approaching the General Assembly, but maintained that going before the commission was the best method.

J.B. Milliken, vice president for public affairs and university advancement, said the exemption will allow a construction manager, hired for individual projects, to represent the university by working directly with contractors and subcontractors.

Milliken added that the multi-prime system still will exist with the electrical, plumbing and mechanical aspects of construction. "The key here is the difference of having a construction manager-at-risk as opposed to traditional contracting."

Davies said the request was made "based on the extraordinary circumstances associated with the unprecedented scale of this entire construction program."

"The proposed construction manager-at-risk method of delivery will provide a higher level of managerial oversight that will be necessary to ensure a predictable and timely project delivery."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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