When an infrastructure project takes the first steps from vague idea towards becoming a reality, public owners must make countless decisions on how to advance the project. One decision of particular importance is the selection of the project delivery method, which has significant impacts on the project's timeline and budget. While many owners are familiar with a variety of project delivery methods, including alternative delivery methods such as design-build, construction manager-at-risk and public-private partnerships, knowing when to choose one option over another can be challenging, even for agencies with substantial project experience.

In an effort to help agencies evaluate various project delivery methods for their project, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) launched the Contracting Alternatives Suitability Evaluator (CASE) Webtool, an online tool that helps state, local and tribal transportation agencies select the most effective project delivery method.

The CASE Webtool has agencies rank or weight their project goals (cost, schedule, technical, context and financing) and asks a series of questions about the potential project. The webtool supports incremental decision-making, allowing the agency to revise their answers as the project takes shape. In addition, the tool considers "what if...?" scenarios, which allows the agency to consider alternate possibilities as they consider various delivery options for their project. It also considers risks, impact and severity of risk occurrence on the project, and probability of risk occurrence. Using the weighted goals and risks and the responses to the questions, the tool guides users towards a preferred contracting method.

The CASE Webtool is thorough, rigorous and based on numerous case studies and substantial data gathered over many years. In an effort to get the word out about this important new tool, FHWA has been hosting two-hour long webinar workshops that provide an overview of the CASE Webtool and a sample walkthrough of how to use it. The FHWA will host its final virtual workshop on January 18, 2024 (click here for more information).

FHWA has made clear that the CASE Webtool is only meant to guide users towards a preferred contracting method, and is not intended to make a final decision for the user. Instead, agencies who are considering a project and are evaluating potential delivery methods should consider using the webtool as part of their broader analysis of the project and should consult with legal counsel regarding the legal authority and any legal implications of using a particular delivery method for a project.

More information about the FHWA's CASE Webtool can be found here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.