- Engineering News-Record this week unveiled its 2018 Top Professional Services Firms list, and industry giants AECOM and Bechtel both ranked No. 1 as the leading program management and construction management-for-fee firms, respectively. Global revenue for both groups combined was down in 2017, but domestically, their revenue was up 6.7% to $17.7 billion, ENR found.
- The same five firms, with some minor reshuffling, topped both of ENR's professional services lists. Rounding out the top five program management firms were Jacobs (No. 2), Bechtel (No. 3), CBRE Group (No. 4) and Parsons (No. 5). Coming in behind Bechtel as the top construction management-for-fee companies were AECOM, Jacobs, Parsons and CBRE Group.
- The demand for professional services in the U.S. is on the rise, as projects become more complex, leading owners to seek out management help from professional services firms. These firms, according to ENR, are also being called on to help with planning, financing, risk assessment and determination of the project delivery method.
Both private and public owners are reaching out to professional services firms in order to tap the expertise necessary to successfully plan and execute projects that could get out of hand without adequate oversight. Light-rail and other transit projects, for example, often costing billions of dollars, can benefit from this approach.
Recently, the Federal Transit Administration gave the green light to the nearly $5 billion, six-mile BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Silicon Valley Phase II extension into downtown San Jose and Santa Clara, California. The project is now going into the engineering phase and will be able to apply for federal grants, but at the helm is the joint venture of HNTB and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, which will oversee the project as program manager under an $88.3 million, four-year contract with the governing agency, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.
Large-scale infrastructure projects also require a management lead, and AECOM is doing just that at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The international engineering and construction firm is serving as program manager for the airport's modernization program, about $5 billion worth of land acquisitions and runway construction projects. Now Chicago officials are planning an additional $8.5 billion expansion at the airport, but there is no word yet as to whether that project will use a program manager or, if it does, if AECOM is the favorite to lead that initiative.