FHWA approves New Mexico DOT’s use of past work quality in awarding construction bids

Updated Mar 10, 2015

New Mexico highway welcome sign

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has approved the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s (NMDOT) plan for a prequalification system using the past performance of a contractor, along with a bid, for awarding a road or bridge construction contract.

In other words, the lowest bid won’t necessarily be the deciding factor; quality of work will be a variable as well.

“We at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) encourage others to come up with innovative ways to be more efficient and this approach is one that we believe may help make the transportation system work better,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Providing quality construction projects will yield better and sustainable jobs for the future.”

The system applies to projects costing more than $5 million.

NMDOT will review several qualities to gauge performance and determine the “prequalification factor” of a contractor. These include construction quality, timeliness, job safety, compliance, and claims records.

FHWA approved the system under its Special Experimental Project No. 14 for innovative contracting. Under this, the administration will require the department to provide periodic reports and evaluate the system every three years.

“This contracting approach could provide New Mexico taxpayers with better value for their dollars,” FHWA Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau said. “It’s about getting the most from our federal investment.”