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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > July 2005 > An Introduction to Alternative Contracting
July 2005Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-028

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An Introduction to Alternative Contracting

Transportation agencies considering the use of alternative contracting techniques for highway projects can learn more about these techniques and the legal aspects of nontraditional contracting practices through a new course available from the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) National Highway Institute (NHI). "Alternative Contracting" (Course No. 134058A) covers such alternative project delivery methods as design-build and performance contracting. It also highlights the use of nontraditional contracting provisions, such as warranties, multi-parameter bidding, incentive and disincentive provisions, and lane rental. While all the modules in the 2-day course are required, agencies can customize the course by choosing which modules they would like to emphasize based on State or local legal restrictions or preferences.

The course is designed for staff working in contract administration, project development and design, and the management of highway construction. Topics include:

  • Nontraditional project delivery systems, bidding practices, and specifications that may be used to reduce life-cycle costs, improve quality, and accelerate the delivery of construction projects.
  • Key differences between the traditional design-bid-build project delivery system and nontraditional delivery systems, such as design-build.
  • How to select the appropriate project to use with a given alternative contracting technique and conversely, how to select an appropriate contracting technique for a given project.
  • The risk allocation, potential cost impacts, and legal issues associated with various alternative contracting techniques.

The course includes lectures, case studies, and writing assignments. The cost is $270 per participant, with a minimum class size of 20 and a maximum of 30. For more information on the course content, contact Jennifer Balis at FHWA, 202-493-7302 (email: To schedule the course, contact Danielle Mathis-Lee at NHI, 703-235-0528 (email: Information on the course is also available on the NHI Web site at

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Updated: 02/20/2015

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