The Survey on Quality of Construction by FIDIC within Member Associations in 2001 confirmed that failure to achieve appropriate Quality of Construction is a problem worldwide. The pressure to reduce the initial costs of construction and supervision were found to have had an adverse effect on quality, as could be predicted. The problem is serious and is evident in both developed and developing countries.
Within the conventional processes for the procurement of construction contract, contractors, who are keen to win tenders, can do so by submitting low prices, but at the risk of not being able to produce construction work which fulfils the specification or meets sustainable standards. Likewise, consultants may be under pressure to reduce the initial cost of construction and construction supervision so that contractors are not able to produce the required quality.
Lack of quality in construction is manifested in poor or non-sustainable workmanship, and unsafe structures, and in delays, cost overruns and disputes in construction contracts.
Consultants are often appointed by a client for a partial service only during construction. This increases the risks to the client and the consultant with respect to the quality and safety of construction, and frequently increases the overall cost of the project when account is taken of delays and disputes. Longer-term costs such as increased maintenance will also be incurred.
FIDIC wishes to take a leading role in working with other stakeholders to address this potentially serious problem.
Actions by government
Engineering is not value-free and hence the approach that organizations take in solving problems is influenced strongly by the values and beliefs they hold. Values and beliefs drive attitude and behavior, and thus outcomes. If improved quality management and quality of construction is desired, then it will be necessary for quality management and quality of construction to be embodied within the values and belief system of the client body. If this is not the case, all the good intentions of the suppliers of services, goods and processes further down the project cycle will have limited impact.
Governments which, as Clients, should be consulted to achieving quality of construction, must adopt a quality management approach towards projects and construction, and consider the following:
§ Recognize that quality management is a prerequisite for sustainable construction.
§ Adopt a sustainable development approach towards construction by taking cognizance of the need to internalize costs.
§ Insist that, for the purposes of ongoing management, operation and maintenance, local capacity must be developed on all projects.
§ Adopt a quality-based selection approach for the procurement of consulting services and include in the selection criteria the need for consultants to have the following in place:
§ quality management system
§ business integrity management system
§ environmental management system
§ risk management system
§ professional indemnity insurance
§ membership of a recognized body representative of the profession or industry.
§ Adopt a quality-orientated selection process for the procurement of construction contracts.
§ Make provision on all construction projects for adequate supervision independent of the Contractor.
§ Promote the use of standardized documentation to be used by all government departments and organs of state for the purposes of:
§ standardized procurement methods (consultants)
§ standardized procurement methods (contractors)
§ standardized client/consultant agreement
§ standardized construction contracts (FIDIC)
§ standardized tender and construction documentation.
Government often has a second, very important function in that it can create an enabling environment through laws and regulations. Such laws and regulations that government may need to consider may include the following:
§ Creation of a specific set of construction activity targets
§ Formation of a body geared towards creating a more enabling construction environment
§ Registration of professionally qualified persons in their respective categories
§ Recognition of equivalent foreign qualifications and registrations.
Actions by International Funding Agencies
International Funding agencies are often as powerful as governments in setting the right climate of what is expected from a construction project, and hence the actions for international funding agencies are mirrored on those for government as a client. In summary, these are:
- Adopt a quality management approach towards projects and construction.
- Adopt a sustainable development approach towards construction by taking cognizance of the need to internalize costs.
- Insist that, for the purposes of ongoing management, operation and maintenance, local capacity must be developed on all projects
- Adopt a quality-based selection approach for the procurement of consulting services and include in the selection criteria the need for consultants to have the following in place:
- quality management system
- business integrity management system
- environmental management system
- risk management system
- professional indemnity insurance
- membership of a recognized body representative of the profession or industry.
- Adopt a quality-orientated selection process for the procurement of construction contracts.
- Make provision on all construction projects for adequate supervision independent of the Contractor;
- Promote the use of standardized documentation to be used by all for the purposes of:
- standardized procurement methods (consultants)
- standardized procurement methods (contractors)
- standardized client/consultant agreement
- standardized construction contracts (FIDIC)
- standardized tender and construction documentation.
Additional actions for international agencies include:
- Insist on capacity building and technology transfer, possibly using the FIDIC Guides for Action.
- Take cognizance of local economic cycles and smooth these cycles rather than exacerbate or deepen them.
- Reduce the project initiation periods, as continuity of firms and their staff would improve quality of construction.
- Reduce prolonged payment periods for claims from consultants and contractors as this would reduce the incidence of unacceptable shortcuts and therefore improve the quality of construction.
Actions by industry
The various role-players in the industry (FIDIC, member associations, firms and contractors) are mainly on the supply side of the intended intervention to improve quality of construction.
The actions for FIDIC could include:
§ to draw attention to the benefit of quality of construction at all times.
§ to continue liaison with international agencies.
§ to act as a conduit for information between the member associations and member firms.
§ to facilitate the production, review and improvement of appropriate documentation and documents including contracts.
§ to engage on education and training initiatives and production of appropriate materials for member associations and their firms.
The actions for member associations could include:
§ to draw attention to the benefits of quality of construction at all times.
§ to act as communication channels between FIDIC and the firms and between the firms and local clients.
§ to assist with education and training of members.
§ to assist with the implementation of improved quality and related systems such as quality-based selection, quality management systems, business integrity management systems, environmental management systems, risk management systems and professional indemnity management system.
§ to lobby with government for the adoption of the actions as outlined under Actions by Government as Client and as Regulator.
§ to encourage the use of internationally accepted Contract documents.
§ to assist in the development of standard specifications.
§ to publicise examples of poor practice.
The actions for firms could include:
§ to produce good standard comprehensive tender and construction documents.
§ to adopt quality management systems, environmental management systems, business integrity management systems and risk management systems.
§ to participate actively in member associations.
§ to assist with:
§ lobbying with government
§ reviewing FIDIC documentation and local equivalents
§ providing feedback on systems and documents promoted
§ by FIDIC for future review
§ to provide feedback to sub-consultants and contractors on their performance with respect to quality of construction.
Actions for contractors could include:
§ to recognise the importance of quality of construction.
§ to adopt quality management systems.
§ to provide procedures for corrective action when quality control and /or acceptance criteria are not met.
§ to provide feedback to consultants for improvement of quality of construction.
§ to recruit, train and assign a skilled work force.
§ to take measures to ensure that subcontractors are qualified, and/or licensed as required.
Further actions would be developed in consultation with the representative bodies of the international contractors.