Job order contracting

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Job order contracting (JOC) is a collaborative construction project delivery method that enables organizations to get numerous, commonly encountered construction projects done quickly and easily through IDIQ or multi-year umbrella contracts. JOC reduces unnecessary levels of engineering, design, and contract procurement time along with construction project procurement costs by awarding long-term contracts for a wide variety of renovation, repair and construction projects. These contracts are often referred to as IDIQ contracts in the federal government.

With an emphasis on partnering and teamwork between owners and contractors, JOC provides the methodology to execute a wide variety of minor construction and maintenance projects indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity, fixed-price, multiple simultaneous orders for renovation, rehabilitation and repair work for facilities and infrastructures.

JOC contractors are selected on qualifications and performance as a Best Value procurement, lowest responsive and responsible bidder, or a combination of both depending on local, state or federal statutes. JOC is about performance, reliability, dependability and quality. At the same time, JOC is about results and working within budget and time constraints. The JOC contractor provides "on call" construction services from concept to close-out.

JOC today has more than a 25-year record of implementation within the United States Department of Defense. Currently, there are hundreds of successful contracts going by the JOC name or by its counterparts of delivery order contracting (DOC), task order contracting (TOC) and simplified acquisition of base engineering requirements (SABER).

JOC deployment hasn’t remained solely federal. The JOC concept and principles have been further embraced in all areas of publicly funded state facilities, universities, housing authorities, transportation agencies, and school systems.

A non-profit organization dedicated to education, training, advocacy, and best practices for JOC was formed in 1995. Center for Job Order Contracting Excellence (CJE) serves as the unbiased national resource center for public entities to access unbiased Best Practices and JOC information. In partnership with Arizona State University and Alliance for Construction Excellence, CJE provides the industry standard professional certificate program for Certified JOC Professional (CJP). Further research and assistance can be found at Center for Job Order Contracting Excellence

Basic principles[edit]

A major element of the JOC contracting process is the use of a unit price book (UPB) or list, which provides preset costs for specific construction tasks. The unit price book or catalog can cover nearly every construction, repair or maintenance task, whether it's minor renovation projects or recurring projects like bathroom renovations, installing carpeting, replacing windows or doors, or even painting, the pricing is developed from the preset line items in the unit price book or list. If a task is not in the UPB, it can be negotiated, priced, and added at any time to the UPB via addendum.

Contractors can be selected based on best-value or most qualified competitive bid, depending upon the owner's requirements. As part of its proposal, or bid, the contractor submits a coefficient (a multiplier) to be applied to the preset unit prices appearing in the UPB or list unless specified otherwise. The coefficient must include not only the contractor's overhead and profit, but also any adjustment that may be needed to the UPB based on the contractor's costs in the local area of the contract (which are functions of labor costs, subcontractor base, market conditions and client-specific terms and conditions).

After contract award, and during the course of the contract, the coefficient will be used to calculate the price for each project which will be the preset unit prices multiplied by the quantity multiplied by the coefficient.

JOC contracts don’t define actual, individual jobs but normally award a potential maximum amount of work over an annual term. For example, a contract may have an annual maximum of $5 million or more but only a minimum guaranteed amount such as $35,000. As a result, the JOC contractor is not guaranteed any specific volume of work and this drives it to generate the best performance possible.

For each project, the owner and the contractor follow the same five steps: (1) Conduct a joint scope meeting at the site to review and discuss the work and the construction schedule; (2) prepare a detailed scope of work; (3) contractor prepares a price proposal (often termed "estimate")via a software platform that uses unit prices from the UPB, quantities, and coefficient, and submits a proposed construction schedule, list of subcontractors and other documents required by the owner; (4) owner reviews price proposal/estimate to confirm the right tasks and quantities were used; (5) if owner is satisfied with price, schedule, subcontractors, etc. owner may issue a job order/work order for the project. The process is transparent and efficient when implemented correctly.

This relationship carries with it a strong motivation for the JOC contractor to provide outstanding service and quality work to receive additional work orders, because the amount of work being assigned by the facility owner or manager is based on the JOC contractor's performance. The agreement should also foster increased communication between the contractor and owner to enhance the partnership aspect of the JOC contract because JOC is the originating collaborative project delivery method.

Key elements[edit]

A JOC contract follows certain procedures leading to an agreement focusing on achieving good work performance and reasonable costs. Among the procedures leading to the formalization of a JOC contract are the following items and provisions:

  • Standard specifications established in a master contract with a summary of work, also including any specific or client-driven conditions.
  • A unit price book or list containing unit prices for construction tasks.
  • Facility owner issues a request for qualifications (RFQ), evaluating firms using best-value, performance-based criteria, or an invitation to bid awarding to the most responsive and responsible bidder.
  • A guarantee of minimum amount of work for the contractor. This is usually a small amount for consideration – a requirement in most states for contracts.
  • Issuance of contractor's work orders based on owner's requirements.
  • Costs for individual work orders are calculated by multiplying the unit prices by the quantities multiplied by the contractor's coefficient.
  • Open communication between public entity facilities team and awarded JOC team, including a kick-off partnering session between everyone utilizing the contract. * Key Performance Indicators should be identified and tracked for optimum success.


The major advantages of job order contracting include:

  1. Fast and timely delivery of projects.
  2. Low overhead cost of construction procurement and delivery.
  3. Development of a partner relationship based on work performance.
  4. Reduced legal fees and reduced need for program management fees.
  5. Transparency with itemized unit pricing
  6. Elimination of change orders. Contractor initiated change orders should not occur in a properly functioning program.
  7. Standard pricing and specification utilizing a published unit price book (UPB), resulting in efficient and effective estimating, design, and fixed-price construction.

Top-performing JOC contractors achieve a high percentage rate for completion of projects on time and on budget. Also, the JOC process provides for a single contract to be used for the delivery of multiple or repeated work orders without having to re-bid the same work as required in other commonly used delivery systems. It allows for back and forth communication and development efforts throughout a project. This differs greatly from the traditional delivery method of design–bid–build. JOC provides the greatest advantage in situations involving recurring work when delivery times, type of work and quantity of work are indefinite. While JOC is not used for major new construction, it is best for straight-forward construction, adjustments, renovation, repair and maintenance of facilities and infrastructures.

Other advantages include:

  • Partnering and performance incentives result in high-quality construction and service and enhanced quality control. Quality JOC contractors have reduced and even eliminated punch lists.
  • Simplified design documents and acquisition processes negate the need for complicated and repetitive contract documents and reduce contract administrative costs.
  • The speed of JOC contracting ranges from 10 days to 21 days from request to construction start, since JOC projects don’t demand soliciting and acquiring a contract along with detailed plans and specifications.
  • Employment of smaller subcontractors in the area to perform the work, allowing for the majority of the project funds to be spent locally.
  • Minimal risk for the owner in the event of problems with the contractor because the owner can stop using the contract at any time. If a performance-based system is also used, the JOC contractor can be terminated for lack of performance.
  • A win–win attitude or motivation for both the contractor and the facility owner produced by and through the long-term relationship.

Use of federal funds[edit]

It is legal to use job order contracting when a project is funded, in whole or in part, with Federal Funds. The federal government uses the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to regulate acquisitions. Job Order Contracting is covered in the FAR in three key areas:

Job Order Contracts are indefinite quantity contracts that are competitively procured for multi-year contracts. JOC is ideally suited to accomplish facilities projects because it expedites the procurement process, saves money and is completely transparent.

"Competing Job Orders"-Poor Practice? The practice of awarding more than one JOC contract for one location and then bidding the contractors against each other on each job order is considered poor practice. Once a contract has been competitively awarded, competing individual job orders defeats the purpose of the project delivery method and use of a unit price book. Some Owners believe that competing contractors against one another will result in a better price. This is true in traditional design-bid-build process but not in a firm fixed price Job Order Contract. If an Owner wants to award more than one JOC contractor for their program, then each of the JOC's can be assigned their own defined geographical boundaries or award work based on a rotation. The work in a particular boundary will always go to the JOC contractor awarded that geographical area unless that contractor is failing to perform or is over committed. In that case the work could be given to another JOC contractor in an adjacent region. The goal is to never compete two JOC contractors on an individual project since they are using the same unit price book.

Attempting to compete multiple contractors on a single JOC project is motivated by the following reasons:

  • The owner mistrusts the contractor.
  • The owner perceives that JOC can be a "win-lose" proposition (win for the owner and lose for the contractors).
  • The owner does not understand the differences in performance by the contractors.
  • The owner may not understand the partnering nature of a successful JOC Program and the industry's Best Practices.
  • Someone within the owner's management organization wants to reduce the short-term cost of JOC construction by forcing contractors to provide services with minimal or no profit.

Further reading[edit]

Center for JOC Excellence - Research & Library


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Center for JOC Excellence