How not to handle big construction contracts

On the Pinellas County (Florida) jail project, the county and contractor decided to settle, rather than litigate. Contractor Skanska wanted $7 million in the final payment. They got $2 million. According to the St. Petersburg Times:

“Officials said that at the outset the county failed to develop a firm estimate of what the project would cost. Initially, the county also had a team managing the project that was “in over its head” when it came to the complexities of jail construction, said public works director Pete Yauch.

The poorest decision, however, may have been to allocate $20-million to construction in May 2005 despite not having a final design in place, officials said. Confusion ensued over expectations, which led to finger pointing and tension.”