Tax Foundation of Hawaii: Ordering project from a menu

We’ve written a lot about the Hawaii State Watch Doggie. Those who have visited our Twitter site have seen that the Doggie is a family man, with a wife and son. His son is 5 years old and loves to ask questions. He also really, really, really loves to eat.

Q: Are you reading something about my school, Dad?

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A: Not just your school. The government is fixing the roofs on lots of schools. And it happens really fast.

Q: How fast?

A: They did eight roofing projects in about eight months.

Q: Is that fast?

A: Normally, one project using the traditional design-bid-build method takes an average of seven years.

Q: Why so long?

A: The project needs to go through appropriation, design, bidding, and construction.

Q: Why didn’t the roof projects take seven years also?

A: They changed the process to something called “Job Order Contracting.” Instead of having the contractors bid on only one job at a time, they had the contractors give the DOE a menu. The DOE picked a handful of contractors, and then was able to order projects off their menus.

Q: Like how I can go into a restaurant and order a hamburger?

A: Yes. But don’t do it now, it’s too close to dinner time.

Q: I want a hamburger

A: No. Anyway, the DOE has lots of construction projects they need work on.

Q: You mean when they need chores done, they don’t do them?

A: No, they just make a list of the projects and call them “deferred maintenance.”

Q: How much deferred maintenance do they have?

A: At the beginning of this year, the DOE said it was $868 million. The boss complained about that back in January.

Q: Wasn’t he also complaining about the university?

A: Yes, the University of Hawaii was reporting a backlog of $722 million.

Q: So, they didn’t do their chores either? And that’s legal?

A: Well, some of our lawmakers were scolding them when they came to the Legislature for money.

Q: So, is the DOE going to use this menu stuff for other things?

A: Yes, they will use that method for air conditioning projects next, and then electrical upgrades.

Q: Is the method really new?

A: Not really. The federal government has been using it for some time.

Q: Then why haven’t we used it before?

A: I don’t know.

Q: Is the University of Hawaii going to use it?

A: I don’t know. They should. By the way, when are you going to clean your room?

Q: Next month. Deferred maintenance!

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A: NO!

Tom Yamachika is president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

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