DOD / Federal Construction for Small Business

DOD / Federal Construction for Small Business

Certainly money is tight, competition is fierce, and everyone must “do more with less”. That said, major opportunities exists for small construction contractors with 8a, WBE, SVOB, HUBZONE status if you are willing to focus and put your skills to work.

A few things you should know:

1. Many, if not most government institutions require and use RSMeans Cost Data for facility repair, renovation and construction cost estimating.

2. JOC-Job Order Contracting (also known as SABER in the Air Force) is a great win-win business opportunity for both owners and service oriented construction/AE firms.

3. e4Clicks Project Estimator is used by more Federal Owners and their supporting Contractors and AE’s than any other RSMeans Cost Estimating and Project Management software in support of JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MACC, SATOC, POCA, BOA, BOS and MATOC construction delivery methods/contracts.

So if you are current serving this market and need to improve productivity, or wish to enter this market, learn more today at

We are here to help Owners, Contractors, and AEs work collaboratively and complete more projects on-time and on-budget.

We are estimators, engineers and project managers who have worked on both sides for decades (as DOD staff and Contractors)… just like you! We have been involved in hundreds of contracts and thousands of projects worth billions of dollars. We understand what happens when it gets busy. We have been there in the month of September, when there are 60 new job walks, and the clock is ticking with only a few weeks to estimate and negotiate.

Managing JOCs ( Job Order Contracting) and IDIQs in spreasheets?

I regularly come across Owners (DOD and non-DOD) who run Job Order Contracts and other IDIQs in spreadsheets…or at least try to do so. I will come right out and say, it can’t be done efficiently, nor does the approach provide for an appropriate level of management/oversight. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Is it lack of education? Mismanagement? Other?

Certainly spreadsheets have many advantages over manual methods, however they fall way short of what a database application such as e4Clicks Project Estimator has to offer.

Is your spreadsheet difficult to use and maintain?
Do changes made in one spreadsheet force you to make changes in another?
Can you see all pertinent data on one screen or do you have to keep scrolling or open other tabs?
Can you easily update prices, quantities and other data elements in a single location?
Are estimates hard to find because they are buried in a confusing collection of folders and directories?
Does your spreadsheet automatically generate a series of reports and/or populate a government form?

4Clicks Training – Best RSMeans Line Item Estimating Solution Available

4Clicks provides advanced solutions for the construction industry with powerful tools to connect people, information and processes – anytime, anywhere.

We are a team of dedicated, passionate driven individuals who come to work every day with the privilege of working for you!  Many of my team members have walked in your shoes working in the industry as cost estimators, project managers, and engineers.  We’ve been in fallout in September, we’ve searched for the perfect line item, we’ve been a single estimator with 60 projects to estimate or part of a team that worked together to process millions of dollars of delivery orders. Now we watch, we listen and we take your suggestions and feedback to develop real world solutions that meet your changing needs. It’s what sets us apart and makes the difference in how we deliver our products, training, and services that you can only experience with 4Clicks Solutions.  Thanks for hearing a little bit about our story, but the truth is, we are more excited to hear about yours!

Improve your Job Order Contracting Program – JOC, SABER, IDIQ …

We can significantly reduce the time it takes you to complete RSMeans line item estimates, improve accuracy, and provide you with a single program allowing your entire team to collaboratively manage multiple contracts.

We can help your team estimate not only faster, but more accurately.

  • Create Estimates in Minutes vs. Hours and Hours vs. Days:  Easily reuse and Share Estimates with our Estimate Clipboard (copy, paste, and update estimates and line items within a collaborative platform).
  • Exclusive 400,000+ RSMeans Line Item Database: Full Descriptions, Modifiers, References, and Images
  • Manage Multiple Contracts and Projects in One Application: JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, Etc.
  • Export to DOD Forms:  AF66, AF3000, AF3052, AF3064-3065, Army 4025, DOD Form 1354, FORSCOM Form 59-R, and more
  • Support for Multiple Price Guides: Integrate Any Pricing Book/Database (GSA, IDIQ’s, VA), Even Custom Data
  • Project Specifications: Automatically Link Estimates to Specifications
  • Document Management:  Stop Reinventing the Wheel with Every Estimate.  Store all of your Active and Inactive Estimates within a Single Program.  Use your Previous Estimate as a Template for your Next.
  • Approved for Government Network Installation:  Army and Air Force
  • Visual Cost Estimating:  Electronic Quantity Takeoff (QTO), Trace and Measure Digital Drawings
  • Truly Extraordinary Training Classes: Led by Former DOD Estimators and Project Managers with Decades of Experience Estimating with RSMeans.
  • Reuse an Old Estimate: Copy and Paste Old Estimates to a Project, Update the Estimate to the Newest RSMeans Data, and Remove Quantities, Notes and Calculations, All in Seconds

4Clicks Solutions, LLC is a certified veteran-owned small business that develops and markets the leading DOD construction cost estimating and project management software product.  e4Clicks Project Estimator is used by over 85% of United States Air Force Bases, a rapidly growing number of Army, USACE Districts, and other Facility Owners.  We also support thousands of Contractors, Subcontractors, AEs, and Consultants.

We have great packages starting at $895.00 for e4Clicks Basic Project Estimator with the RSMeans Building Construction Cost Database, while many of our clients upgrade to e4Clicks Professional Project Estimator, eTakeoff Professional, and the 2014 RSMeans Facilities for $2,430.00.

Job Order Contracting Process Diagram
Job Order Contracting Process Diagram

2013 Global Construction Survey

In 2013, KPMG interviewed executives from 165 engineering and construction companies around the world, serving a range of markets including energy, power, industrial, healthcare/pharmaceutical, manufacturing, mining, education and government.

Key findings:

1. “66 percent feel that national governments’  infrastructure plans are the single biggest driver of market growth”

2. Slow recovery / growth continuing with “stable or higher margins”

3. “budget deficits and public funding is the biggest barrier to growth”

4. Growth areas: “power and energy top the list by a significant distance, other target sectors include water, rail, mining, and roads and bridges”

5. Standardization is critical to improving “project and risk management”.  “Whenever new people start on a project, they bring with them different processes. To spread good practices,  contractors can increase their use of… ” cost estimating and …. “project management software and step up training…. consolidate project delivery, and tighten
all leakages as much as possible.”

6. “Become a strategic partner to clients’ businesses By working more closely with clients from all sectors….”

via – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring an exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating/automatic quantity take off ( QTO),  and collaborative contract/project/document management, all in one application.   Our technology is currently serving over 85% of United States Air Force bases and rapidly growing numbers of other DOD and non-DOD (United States Army Corps of Engineers,  Army, GSA, Homeland Security, VA..) federal departments/agencies, as well as state/county/local governments, colleges/universities, healthcare,  and airports/transportation.  RSMeans Strategic Partner.



5 Steps to a Successful Construction Cost Estimate

1.Collaboration – To paraphrase, “no successful cost estimator is an island”.  It is critical to understand the full scope of any project.   Collaboration spans discussions with Owners, Contractors, Subs/Trade, site visits, sharing estimates and jointly reviewing/refining and negotiating estimates, and more!

2. Transparency – Despite what you may hear, there is no “secret sauce” involved in cost estimating, and no “black magic” either.  It’s all about experience and the application of robust business process and appropriate use/re-use of available cost data, including so called “reference cost data” such as RSMeans.  All stakeholders must be able to understand the cost estimate thus transparency is a requirement.

3. Technology – Collaboration, transparency, accuracy, productivity and other factors are directly impacted by technology.  Using the appropriate tools for the job is just as important for cost estimating as it is for a  construction project.  The exclusive use of spreadsheets for multiple concurrent projects and/or larger projects is typically unproductive and error prone.  Don’t fall into the “spreadsheets can do anything” trap.  That said, there is no cost estimating software application that can do everything (residential, commercial, government, …) well.  So look for ‘best of breed’ applications that are built for your needs!

4. Information – Extensive  detailed line time cost databases, such as those from RSMeans, as well as historical costs and other third party sources are extremely important relative to productivity and accuracy.  They enable information re-use, data validation, and more.   That said, proper attention must be paid to the data architecture (how information is categorized, updated, and stored).

5. Localization – Every construction job, while sharing many similarities, is different.  Each cost estimate must be localized for physical site conditions, physical location, as well as local labor and material availability.

4. Granularity – A big word, I know… but understanding the inter-relationships and variability associated with material, equipment, and labor for each activity or task is critical.   Are you using union, open shop, Davis-Bacon…  what is the source of your information, what sample size are you using,  what could affect productivity, ….
5.  Parallel Approach – Top down or bottom up?  The answer is both!   Clearly one must understand the overall value associated with a certain project.  That said, detailed line items with associated labor, materials, and equipment, and an associated bill of materials (BOM) are requirements for transparency and to mitigate errors and omissions.

via – Premier cost estimating and project management software for efficient project delivery – JOC, SABER, IDIQ, SATOC, MATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, ….

The Metrics of BIM – The Manage the Built Environment

As the old saying goes…”you can’t manage what you don’t measure”.



Here’s the beginning of a list of information requirements spanning various domains/competencies, technologies, etc.,
While an important component, the 3D component of BIM has been a very unfortunate distraction.  It appears that many/most have “gone to the weeds” and/or are “recreating the wheel” vs. working on core foundational needs such as the consistent use of appropriate terminology and the establishment of robust, scalable and repeatable business practices, methodologies, standards, metrics and benchmarks for facilities and physical infrastructure management.

It is common terminology that enables effective communication and transparency among the various decision makers, building managers, operators and technicians involved with facilities and physical infrastructure investment and management.

Here are examples of metrics associated with the life-cycle management of the built environment:

Annualized Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) per building per gross area = Rate per square foot

Annualized TCO per building/Current replacement value = Percent of Current Replacement Value (CRV)

Annualized TCO per building/Net assignable square feet = Cost rate per net assignable square feet per building

Annualized TCO per building/Non-assignable square feet = Cost rate per non-assignable square feet per building

Annualized TCO per building/Building Interior square feet = Cost rate per interior square foot per building

Churn Rate

Utilization Rate

AI (Adaptation Index) or PI (Programmatic Index) = PR (Program Requirements) /
CRV (Current Replacement Value)

Uptime or Downtime – Defined in percent, as amount of time asset is suitable for the program(s) served.

Facility Operating Gross Square Foot (GSF) Index (SAM Performance Indicator: APPA 2003)

Custodial Costs per square foot

Grounds Keeping Costs per square foot

Energy Costs per square foot

Energy Usage

Utility Costs per square foot

Waste Removal Costs per square foot

Facility Operating Current Replacement Value (CRV) Index (SAM Performance Indicator: APPA 2003)

Planned/Preventive Maintenance Costs per square foot

Emergency Maintenance Costs as a percentage of Annual Operations Expenditures.

Unscheduled/Unplanned Maintenance Costs as a percentage of Annual Operations Expenditures.

Repair costs (man hours and materials) as a percentage of Annual Operations Expenditures

FCI (Facility Condition Index) = DM (Deferred Maintenance) + CR (Capital Renewal)
/ CRV (Current Replacement Value)

Recapitalization Rate, Reinvestment Rate

Deferred Maintenance Backlog

Facilities Deterioration Rate

FCI (Facility Condition Index) = DM (Deferred Maintenance) + CR (Capital Renewal) /
CRV (Current Replacement Value)

AI (Adaptive Index) or PI (Programmatic Index) = PR (Program Requirements) /
CRV (Current Replacement Value)

FQI (Facility Quality Index) or Quality Index or Index = FCI (Facility Condition Index)+ AI (Adaptive Index)

BIMF - Building Information Management FrameworkVia – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software for the built environment – , …

What is Job Order Contracting? What is IDIQ?

What is an IDIQ?

Indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts has been a useful tool in federal government acquisition for many years.

IDIQ contracts had historically been used only as single award contracts to procure services or supplies until the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) of 1994, noting the value of multiple award contracts.   Additionally the court system determined that IDIQ contracts were applicable to construction and architect-engineering services, provided the selection of contractors and placement of orders are consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 36.

Multiple forms of both multiple and single award construction IDIQ contracts are available as well as software to enable rapid implementation and consistent deployment.  Examples of multiple awards are multiple award construction contracts (MACC) and multiple award task order contracts (MATOC). Single awards include job order contracts / job order contracting (JOC) and simplified acquisition of base engineer requirements (SABER). SABER is the US Air Force implementation of JOC.

Multiple awards result in individual job tasks for which all awardees compete and are negotiated and priced per the specific requirement. Single awards and multiple awards are typically priced using detailed line item cost estimating provided specific to the IDIQ.  Commercial, industry standard unit price books may be use, such as RSMeans Cost Books or  “custom” IDIQ price books.  Both may be referred to a Unit Price Book (UPB), or an IDIQ price book/guide.   It is important that both the Owner and the Contractor have unit line item cost estimating capability. It is generally regarded as “best practice” and may even be a regulatory requirement that the Owner does their own internal estimate (sometimes referred to as an Independent Government Estimate – IGE).  Some Owners for specific forms of IDIQ, such as JOC for example,  may elect to “outsource” or subcontract the JOC program to a third party for a fee (typically a percentage of the overall JOC program annually).  In this instance the third party acts as an “owner’s agent” and works with the Contractors directly, vs. Owner “hands-on”  participation. The latter is not recommend, nor consistent with “pure” JOC program implementation. It may however be the only option for Owners with limited technical estimating and/or project/program management capabilities.

Additionally, multiple awards are forms of design-build for complex projects, typically $750,000 to $5 million. Single awards involve minimum design for non-complex projects that typically range from $2,000 to $750,000. However multi-year JOC/SABER programs can easily exceed $300 million.  Many JOC/SABER and IDIQ contacts involve a base year and three or four year options. This means that the owner/contractor relationship is long term, with no need to re-solicit for five years, a potential benefit for all parties.

Construction IDIQ contracts provide a streamlined means to complete projects with benefits for both the government ‘/ public agency (DOD, non-DOD Federal Government, State/County/Local Government, Airports, Education, Healthcare, and the commercial business (Contractor/AE).

Robust Construction Cost Estimating with Best Representation of RSMeans Cost Data – Contractors, Owners, AEs, JOC, IPD, SABER, IDIQ …

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  – Albert Einstein

Despite Einstein’s quote, most Owners, Contractors, and AEs are burdened by aging and outdated tools that now create more problems than they solve.   Spreadsheets are a primary example.  Sure, they are an important tool.  But remember, they were designed some thirty years ago to deal with the mundane tasks of pen an paper accounting and forecasting.   Today’s world of Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owner, and Operations, ( AECCO ) demands the collaboration of dispersed disciplines and teams,  accelerated deadlines, and “doing more with less”.   Creating and sharing spreadsheets can’t keep pace with the speed of business, and the documented (see references below) spreadsheet issues of formula and data input errors are far too costly.

Powerful cost estimating software, integrated with visual estimating, contract management, project management, and document management is the new standard.   Owners, Contractors, and AEs can be significantly more productive and collaborative, working literally at any time, from any place.

Furthermore with an integration of an exclusively enhanced 400,000+ line item RSMeans database (or an IDIQ, or custom database), transparency and consistency are virtually assured.

Make the move to newer, more productive cost estimating and project management systems.

Note: Christofferson, Jay. “Estimating with Microsoft Excel”, Brigham Young University.Nickols, Robert Duane. “Construction Estimating Using Excel” Lexington Technical Institute, University of Kentucky.

Comparison of Cost Estimating Tools

JOC White Paper

via – Premier software for efficient project delivery.  RSMeans, JOC, SABER, IDIQ, IPD, SATOC, MATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA …

Estimating, Project Delivery Methods and Improved Construction Productivity

Accurate construction estimates are a fundamental component of any successful construction project.

The more accurate the scope of a construction project, the more accurate the estimate.

To achieve accuracy in both the scope and the estimate requires collaboration and communication among Owners, AE’s, and Contractors.  Thus, while many/most AEC professionals could likely provide an accurate estimate if provided an accurate, detailed scope of the project, the latter is rare.

The endemic lack of collaboration among Owners, AEs, and Contractors, as well as relatively low percentage of timely accurate construction project scopes are both due to the inconsistent application of robust project delivery methods.

Any significant improvement in construction cost estimating and associated procurement, project management, and actual job-site work must be based in the development and deployment of efficient project delivery methods, such as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), IPD-lite, Job Order Contacting(JOC).

Accurate scoping requires a knowledge of the construction processes. Unit costs and standardized data architectures and lexicon play key roles in accurately communication project requirements, however, AE, site, and execution components all impact unit pricing.

Converting scope to quantities requires a solid understanding of construction techniques, working with numbers, drawing scales, waste factors, plan reading, conversion factors, labor/material/crew/equipment variables …. and quantity take-off (QTO) and unit, assembly, system, and square foot costs are all important aspects.  For example, professional estimators..whether Owners, Contractors, or Independent,  get their unit costs a wide range of sources… historical information, contractors, trades, business product manufactures, as well as published national average, and localized cost data.
While a  lump sum price is so much more than “just” the total of unit material, labor and equipment costs, unit costs and standardized cost data architecture do, however, help in mitigating “missed items” and in communicating and resusing cost data. – premier software for efficient project delivery – JOC, SABER, IPD, SATOC, MATOC, MACC, IDIQ, POCA, BOA.