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Inspection and Other Strategies for Assuring Quality in Government Construction 4 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS This study began with a questioning of procedures used by federal agencies for inspection during construction of their facilities. While the committee found that the inspection strategies used by the agencies, though varied, are adequate to provide a reasonable assurance that the specified requirements are being met, improvements can and should be made. Furthermore, as the preceding chapters have discussed, the committee felt this focus on inspection is too narrow to effectively address the real issue of assuring quality in federal construction. The committee's deliberations, conclusions, and recommendations—reflecting their judgment and experience—spanned this broader issue. GETTING QUALITY IN FEDERAL FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION "Quality," within the limited context of construction, is defined as conformance to adequately developed requirements.
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Inspection and Other Strategies for Assuring Quality in Government Construction Current practices for establishing, stating, and communicating requirements and for determining that construction has indeed met these requirements offer many opportunities for mistakes, misunderstandings, and oversights. An essential precondition for assuring construction quality is getting the requirements right, and the committee recommends that federal agencies should continue working to improve their ability to develop facility programs, plans, budgets, guide criteria, design drawings, and specifications that convey the appropriate requirements in a clear manner to the constructor. Agency personnel, private architects and engineers employed by agencies to plan and design specific facilities, and constructors employed under contract to build these facilities all have roles to play in getting the requirements right. Quality is more likely to be assured when these parties work cooperatively toward the common goal of delivering a facility that meets the agency's needs. Agencies should avoid adversarial design and construction management practices and adopt defined programs to foster teamwork among users, design and construction managers, designers, and constructors. The TQM philosophy is a worthy basis for formulating these programs (See Appendix D). THE DESIGNER'S ROLE Architects and engineers who plan and design federal facilities play a key role in determining the quality of these facilities. Both the agencies and their designers should work to assure that the drawings and specifications that present requirements to the constructor are a complete and clear statement of what the owner and user expect in the facility. In those cases where a construction agency other than the user is responsible for administration of the building process, all of these parties must work even harder. The TQM philosophy is an appropriate basis for this effort as well.
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Inspection and Other Strategies for Assuring Quality in Government Construction THE ROLE OF INSPECTION Inspection, only one of several elements in an effective quality management program, is nevertheless an important means for controlling conformance to requirements and an essential part of any quality management program. However, the value of inspection has limits and over-inspection wastes agency resources, adds to the cost of construction, and establishes unproductive adversarial relationships among owners, designers, and constructors. Agencies should avoid excessive controlled and superfluous discretionary inspections. A systematic review by each agency of its inspection practices, conducted within the context of cost and schedule protection planning, can reveal when inspections are being called for out of proportion to the importance of the inspected items to overall quality. COORDINATED AGENCY QUALITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS The currently independent quality management programs of individual agencies can be made more effective by joint action. Agencies should join in specific programs to share information and centralize selected inspection activities. Broad participation in a contractor performance monitoring system (such as the Army's Construction Contractor Appraisal Support System) would increase the importance of the system to contractors and enhance its contribution to quality of agency construction. Establishment of a cadre of trained inspection professionals, based at federal district or area office levels and serving all agencies constructing facilities within that district or area, would enhance the government's ability to maintain adequate personnel and provide these professionals with greater career opportunities within their field of expertise. These centralized quality management resources can be expanded to include data analysis support and purchasing of testing services and training of managers to be open and responsive to workers' proposals.
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Inspection and Other Strategies for Assuring Quality in Government Construction However, the goal of total quality management and the search for continuous improvement must penetrate all parts of the organization. The committee further recommends all federal agencies adopt consistent quality definitions (Appendix B) and standardize, insofar as possible, agency practices, patterned after the Corps of Engineers. EFFECTIVE INSPECTION The resources available for inspection must be deployed effectively and will be most productive when all parties to the facilities development process accept the value and relevance of inspections. To assure this effective deployment and acceptance, agencies should develop integrated inspection plans for their construction projects. These plans, prepared jointly by the agencies and their design consultants, should be reviewed with the construction contractor and accepted prior to commencing construction, perhaps at the pre-bid conference, as part of the contract negotiations, and at the preconstruction conference. When the user agency and construction agency are different, both agencies should be involved in developing the plan. The federal government as a whole is the nation's principal purchaser of construction services and can be a powerful force for advancing the state of the art in construction quality management. Agencies should fund the research and demonstration activities required to develop new inspection and other quality assurance technologies. QUALITY MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS Federal agencies should adopt systems for measuring their quality management efforts and relate these efforts to the costs associated with doing things over. The Construction Industry Institute's Quality Performance Management System provides
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Inspection and Other Strategies for Assuring Quality in Government Construction a simple, cost-effective, management tool to inform agency personnel where improvements can be made. Coupled with a TQM focus, quantitative quality measurements will help foster change and provide the information needed for positive improvements in quality to be effected. EFFECTIVE QUALITY MANAGEMENT Agencies seek quality facilities that enhance safety, productivity, and overall quality of life. This quality is assured only when there is a commitment to quality throughout planning, design, and construction. This commitment must be extended to operations and maintenance of facilities as well. Senior agency administrators should assert this commitment and establish definite programs for making the commitment effective and lasting. This recommendation applies not only to construction agencies, but to users as well. Satisfaction of users' needs is the source of requirements to be met in construction and the ultimate measure of quality. Effective construction quality management requires that the user's interests be reflected. ASSURING QUALITY IN CONSTRUCTION Quality in construction is a product of the complex interaction of many participants in the facilities development process. The committee's recommendations, aimed primarily at agency managers, address design and construction professionals, educators, and policy makers as well. Quality in construction is assured only when there is a commitment to quality throughout all stages of the facility service lifetime, from initial conception through operations and maintenance. Quality facilities that meet and exceed expectations—enhancing our safety, productivity, and overall quality of life—are the result of such commitment and the real goal of the committee's work.
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