Date of Award


Document Type

Terminal Project

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)


The College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

Committee Member

Dr. Tim Green, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. John Gaber

Committee Member

Dr. Cliff Ellis


In 2017, America’s infrastructure was given a grade of D+ (American Society of Civil Engineers, 2017). Through systemic lack of maintenance and lack of attention, America’s infrastructure has been steadily declining since the first national infrastructure report was issued in 1988. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that the funding shortfall to repair that infrastructure is $2 trillion (2017). While not always maintenance related, a series of high profile infrastructure failures have brought this subject to the attention of the public in the last 20 years. The collapse of bridges in Milwaukee, Miami, and Atlanta, levee failures in New Orleans, and the failure of dams in the Carolinas after multiple 500 year floods and a 1,000 year flood in 2018, have served to highlight the tremendous impact to life and commerce that infrastructure failures can have (109th Cong. 2, 2006; Kaplan, 2018; National Transportation Safety Board 2007, 2017, 2018).

In the face of a need for investment in public infrastructure, as prevalent in the public consciousness is the track record of performance in government contracting. Whether the Big Dig in Boston, coming in $11 billion dollars over budget or the $160 billion-dollar in Joint Strike Fighter program cost growth, examples abound of projects that grow in cost and/or duration (106th Cong. 1, 2000; Government Accountability Office(GAO), 2017). Not every infrastructure investment though is a multi-billion-dollar decision and government actors at all levels will be making infrastructure investment decisions across the country over the coming decades. This paper examines links between national and regional construction sector characteristics viewed through the productivity of Navy construction contracts.

Public sector construction contracts are largely performed by construction contractors who are part of an industry that varies both regionally and nationally. While productivity factors of individual projects, regions, and national economies have been studied, clear relationships between those factors have not been identified. These factors can vary across all three dimensions and those variations can impact the productivity of construction firms, which can in turn impact the outcomes of those projects they work on. Recognizing that public sector capital improvement investments do not occur in a vacuum and are subject to market forces means that all those factors must be analyzed when considering project outcomes. Analyzing project outcomes at either a micro or macro scale does not allow for holistic analysis of those projects. Frequently, those outcomes are viewed through the lens of technical factors or project management decisions rather than through the lens of production factors. Without clear understanding of those factors, public infrastructure investment is subject to inefficiencies that do not optimize the use of public funds

This paper will seek to answer the research question: Are regional market factors in construction correlated with productivity in Navy construction contracts?

Through analysis of contract specific, regional, and national economic data as well as weather data, it is expected that links will be found between those factors and the performance of contracts in that market in the form of reduced productivity.

This study is unique in that it examines construction industry productivity through a combination of contract specific, regional, and national factors instead of only one of those lenses. Through identifying productivity factors that occur at multiple levels and accounting for regional differences, decision makers will have the capability to analyze the expected productivity and therefore outcomes of the funds they spend on capital improvements.

The next section presents a literature review briefly summarizing an overview of Navy construction contracting, how construction contract outcomes are measured, and productivity factors in the construction industry, followed by a study methodology, and a presentation of the findings.