6

TOWARD BETTER UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGEMENT OF A&E RESPONSIBILITIES

In their guide on Quality in the Constructed Project, the American Society of Civil Engineers presented a “matrix of suggested responsibilities ” that proposed 38 specific tasks for which owners, design professionals, and constructors might be considered responsible, individually and jointly (ASCE, 1990). At the same time, the guide states that:

Each project has its own unique set of circumstances requiring careful structuring of the contract terms which define the roles and responsibilities of each team member and the manner in which other team members assist in the effort to reach the common goal—quality in the constructed project.

The unique circumstances of each project are indeed decisive in determining the roles and responsibilities of participants in the facility development process. General lists of potential responsibilities can serve as suggestions of areas to which these participants should give attention in their work, but each project should be addressed as a new undertaking and considered for the unique pattern of responsibilities on that project. Similarly, many key aspects of roles and responsibilities can be effectively contained in the formal contract terms, but the contract is



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ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND THEIR CLIENTS IN FEDERAL FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT 6 TOWARD BETTER UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGEMENT OF A&E RESPONSIBILITIES In their guide on Quality in the Constructed Project, the American Society of Civil Engineers presented a “matrix of suggested responsibilities ” that proposed 38 specific tasks for which owners, design professionals, and constructors might be considered responsible, individually and jointly (ASCE, 1990). At the same time, the guide states that: Each project has its own unique set of circumstances requiring careful structuring of the contract terms which define the roles and responsibilities of each team member and the manner in which other team members assist in the effort to reach the common goal—quality in the constructed project. The unique circumstances of each project are indeed decisive in determining the roles and responsibilities of participants in the facility development process. General lists of potential responsibilities can serve as suggestions of areas to which these participants should give attention in their work, but each project should be addressed as a new undertaking and considered for the unique pattern of responsibilities on that project. Similarly, many key aspects of roles and responsibilities can be effectively contained in the formal contract terms, but the contract is

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ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND THEIR CLIENTS IN FEDERAL FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT drawn before a project begins and cannot be expected to deal effectively with all aspects of how the project will develop. A&E professionals, as professionals, have responsibilities that go beyond the terms of the contract. LEVELS OF RESPONSIBILITIES Beyond their contractual responsibilities—described in the specific agreement between the A&E firm and the client and in the general terms of law governing contractual relationships—A&E responsibilities occur at three additional levels: (1) technical, which concerns the methods and procedures used to design facilities and the underlying knowledge of materials, construction methods, users' needs and requirements of use, and other areas that enable the A&E firm to make sound technical judgments; (2) legal, which is the general framework of regulation, liability, and other areas of law that guide or constrain society; and (3) ethical, which involves matters of judgment and behavior regarding public interest, uses of environmental resources, aesthetics, and other issues that go beyond codified legal, technical, and contractual responsibilities. As the American Society of Civil Engineers guide indicates, contractual responsibilities are for the most part spelled out for each specific project, and contractual terms may vary substantially from one project to another. The scope of services of the contract is written for the specific project, and the A&E's performance can be evaluated against the terms of that scope. Nevertheless, certain general forms of contracts for A&E services are widely used. These general forms reflect aspects of the standards of A&E professional practice. Technical responsibilities are implicit within the contractual scope of services. While they vary with the specific type of facility, its scale and location, and other characteristics, these

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ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND THEIR CLIENTS IN FEDERAL FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT technical responsibilities spring from a core of technical knowledge that A&E professionals are expected to know and master. This knowledge includes characteristics of materials; analysis and design methods; and the limits of appropriate application of material, methods, and procedures. Complaints about constructability of designs by A&E professionals spring from a belief that A&E professionals should have thorough knowledge of construction practices. When failures occur during and following construction, the allocation of blame frequently hinges on whether technical responsibilities were met, a judgment that often involves the opinions of other professionals that are asked to review the specific situation. Such disputes are therefore difficult to resolve, because they rely on these judgments. Legal responsibilities (e.g., those associated with national environmental policy or equal employment opportunity), unlike the technical ones, are explicitly stated but are included in the contract document only by reference,1 if at all. These responsibilities, while based on specific statutes and regulations, may evolve with experience and interpretation in case law. Determination that these responsibilities have been met may be based on straightforward procedural criteria but sometimes requires legal opinion or jury deliberation. Ethical responsibilities are defined and enforced in part by licensing and registration laws, in part through peer reviews, and in part by self-imposed principles and practices. A responsible A&E professional will act in the public interest to protect health and safety; meet broadly defined users' needs; and point out problems to the client, even in those areas not 1   For example, standard requirements may be cited in contract documents as applicable to the project. It is then up to the contractor to know the content of these citations.

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ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND THEIR CLIENTS IN FEDERAL FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT included within the contractual scope or covered by enforceable laws or regulations. An understanding of these ethical responsibilities is generally developed through professional education, the activities of professional societies, and the mentoring of junior professionals by more senior personnel. DATA, MEASUREMENT, AND LIMITS OF MANAGEMENT At all four levels of responsibility, there are few statistics or other quantitative data on the performance of A&E firms. This lack of objective information limits the ability of all participants in the process to characterize effectively when each party is adequately fulfilling its responsibilities. Management, to be truly effective, should reflect experience. Efforts to develop realistic, uniform, experience-based measures and benchmarks of A&E performance will yield solid benefits in the form of management tools that can be used by both A&E firms and government agencies to improve planning and design management. While there are many factors that will enter into the determination of whether A&E firms and others have met their responsibilities, the need for change orders during construction and the impact of change orders on project costs are key concerns from the owner's point of view. The study committee proposes that change orders—their number, causes, and impact on construction cost relative to budgeted and bid amounts—should be given careful consideration as an indicator of project quality and the performance A&E firms. Data should be collected and analyses conducted to provide a uniform basis for A&E firms, their clients, and others to judge whether the level of changes experienced in a particular project are unusual and possibly outside the range of adequate performance. These analyses

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ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND THEIR CLIENTS IN FEDERAL FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT should be conducted with steady attention to the roles of all parties involved in successful facility development.2 Some data are already available that might contribute to such analyses. However, the study committee found that problems of consistency of definitions and subjectivity in attribution of sources of the need for a change order (e.g., because of designers' errors, program changes, or other) will limit the usefulness of existing data. (See Appendix D.) Hence, new data will have to be collected. In the future, these data would be expanded beyond change orders to encompass the full range of factors that enter into a determination of whether A&E firms and others have met their responsibilities. A&E professionals and government agency personnel are (or ought to be) working together on facility development, and they should work together on data collection and analyses of A&E performance. Both parties play a role in determining the outcome of facility development. Measures and benchmarks of A&E performance cannot be developed with reference to the A&E firm alone. The study committee recommends that the agencies of the FFC convene professional organizations such as the American Institute of Architects, the American Consulting Engineers Council, the Associated General Contractors, and others to work with the agencies to develop a study design, assemble a comprehensive database on project development, and analyze that data to verify or modify the measures and benchmarks proposed here. The BRB should act to encourage and facilitate this work. 2   Other measures besides change orders, such as construction period duration, user satisfaction, variance of construction bids, and relation of construction bid to designer's estimates, might in the future be developed as useful supplementary indicators of how well A&E responsibilities have been met.

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ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND THEIR CLIENTS IN FEDERAL FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT INTERIM GUIDELINES FOR JUDGING A&E PERFORMANCE While data for comprehensive analysis are not now available, the members of the study committee agreed that guidelines can be developed for judging A&E performance. The committee suggests the following guidelines as interim and advisory but nevertheless possibly helpful to government agency personnel and others seeking to determine the reasonable standards of care for owners and A&E firms working on facility development. The experiences of A&E firms and government agencies shows clearly that they must work together—from start to finish—if improvements are to be made in the procedures and products of government facility design and construction. Each side has responsibilities, and those of one cannot be effectively fulfilled without the cooperation of the other. Guideline 1. A&E professionals can be expected to perform their tasks more responsibly if they are involved, on a continuing basis, in more stages of the facility development process. The professionals can do a better job if they are familiar with the reasons that particular decisions were made during the process and if they can maintain a continuity of intent throughout planning and design. Being asked to assess the finished product not only allows for mistakes and oversights to be corrected but also enhances awareness of problems that occur in construction and operation and maintenance. Guideline 2. Construction change orders due to unanticipated site or market conditions or due to shifts in user and owner needs are to be expected during the long time required for the planning, design, and construction of any facility. This long time—18 to 36 months, typically, and much longer still if the

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ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND THEIR CLIENTS IN FEDERAL FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT project is undertaken for a government agency—makes it almost inevitable that assumptions will change, new information will be discovered, or external forces in the economy will influence decisions. Changes during construction may in such cases be not only unavoidable but also a sensible response to current conditions. The issue in judging A&E responsibilities is not whether there are change orders but rather whether the level of change orders (and resulting cost growth, if any) is excessive and the degree to which the cost growth is attributable to the A&E firm. In any case, construction cost growth of as much as 5 percent over bid estimates is not abnormal.3 Guideline 3. As the time required to develop a facility increases, from initial planning through the end of construction, so does the likelihood of change orders, cost growth, and loss of quality. While it might be expected that larger projects (as measured by construction budget) are more susceptible to changes, experience shows this to be an unreliable indicator of likely percentage cost growth. Increasing time is more reliable as a predictor of changes. Delays, whether from legislative, administrative, or technical causes, upset budget and design assumptions and contribute generally to the potential for change orders to be required. As project duration increases, it is more difficult to determine that A&E performance is wanting. Guideline 4. Changes in the requirements tend to cause changes in design. Changes associated with design (for which the A&E firm often is presumed to be responsible) are more likely to be encountered when there have been changes associated with the owner 's requirements. Whether agency shifts in requirements actually foster design-related changes or are simply an indicator of a project more susceptible to changes 3   Small projects may typically experience changes representing a larger portion of bid estimate.

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ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND THEIR CLIENTS IN FEDERAL FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT is unclear. However, if the agency changes its requirements, these changes may have impact throughout the design by disrupting both previous design decisions and the design management process. In such cases, it is more difficult to determine that A&E performance is wanting. Guideline 5. Projects that experience construction changes that increase costs more than 10 percent over construction contract award value should be considered unusual and warrant thorough management review. Changes due to A&E firm errors, oversights, or omissions increasing costs 5 percent or more may be an indication of A&E performance problems. If an agency is experiencing such cases on a recurring basis, the agency's programming or A&E firm selection processes may be at fault. While the preceding guidelines acknowledge that blame is difficult to assign, cost growth due to design-related change orders is an indicator of a need for management attention. The level of cost growth and number of change orders that should be considered abnormal depend on project complexity and novelty. The specific levels proposed here are general and based substantially on committee members' judgment. Study committee members estimate that fewer than 20 percent of projects exhibit cost growth in excess of 10 percent, for any reason, and suggest that such cost growth is a reasonable basis for the agency and its A&E firm to question whether the performance on such projects is adequate.4 Effective management of facility development requires that all participants understand their roles and responsibilities in achieving a high-quality facility. 4   The comments and the recommendations apply primarily to conventional design-bid-build construction.

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ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND THEIR CLIENTS IN FEDERAL FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS TO ENHANCE QUALITY Although these guidelines may be a useful starting point toward more-effective understanding and management of the responsibilities of A&E firms and their clients, they are only a start. Additional data and analysis are needed to develop better bases for judging whether responsibilities are being adequately met. Above all, more-effective communication and cooperation among the participants in facility development are needed. Better understanding, bases for judgment, and teamwork will make the process of selection, design, and construction initiation of A&E firms faster and more efficient and will in turn help to ensure that the responsibilities of A&E firms and their clients are met. Enhanced quality of the facilities produced will be the ultimate result. It is said that “good judgment is generally the result of experience, and experience is often the result of poor judgment.” Unless one can learn from experience, the same mistakes will continue to be made. The guidelines presented here may serve as a starting point but must be verified or modified by experience and further analysis. The committee hopes that their study will motivate further learning, so that everyone involved can work together to achieve better facilities.

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