computer-aided design and other technologies are occurring simultaneously with process changes in federal agencies, increasing the importance of technology support in the design process.
In this changing facilities acquisition environment, the sponsor agencies of the Federal Facilities Council (FFC) determined that a review of issues, practices, and methods related to the design phase of the acquisition process could be of benefit. The FFC is a cooperative association of federal agencies, each of which requires the acquisition, maintenance, and operation of a significant inventory of buildings and other constructed facilities in support of its mission. 1
Because of resource constraints, the FFC initially chose to focus on the design review function of the design process. Prior to developing a detailed scope of work, the sponsor agencies shared information on their own design review processes and the design review processes of some private sector organizations with which they were familiar. Analysis of this information revealed that no two of these organizations defined the design review process and its various elements in exactly the same manner. Nor was a common start or end point identified for design review as an element of the facility acquisition process. For some organizations, design review was limited to reviewing a consultant-prepared schematic design to ensure that it met the owner organization's functional requirements for floor area, functional adjacencies and connections, and budget. For other organizations, design review primarily involved reviewing a more detailed facility design prepared by an in-house design team or a private sector architect/engineer firm under contract. The level of the review and the elements reviewed —for example, architectural reviews, mechanical and electrical interface reviews, or constructability reviews—also varied. Some processes were formal, incorporating design reviews at specific design milestones (e.g., 15, 30, 60 percent design). Others were less formal, relying on periodic meetings between the owner and the design team to review the progress being made toward final preparation of final construction contract plans and specifications.
In view of the lack of a commonly accepted definition of the elements, duration, and substance of the design review process, the FFC determined that it would focus on practices for reviewing facility designs over the entire facility acquisition process, from conceptual planning to start-up. Stated another way, in this study the term design review is used to signify the review of facility designs as part of a multiphased process and is not limited to reviewing designs during the design phase of facility acquisition.
The core issues of this study concern the value-added of design review processes and the appropriate level of oversight for owners of facilities, particularly federal agencies, in such processes. The study objective was to identify a range of best practices and technologies that can be used by federal agencies and other owners to provide adequate management and oversight of design reviews throughout the facility acquisition process. Specifically, the study seeks to provide answers to the following questions:
What is the value-added of design review processes?
How do (and how can) federal agencies measure the value-added?
What is the role of in-house staff, and what value do they add to design review processes?
What functions are being (and should be) contracted to outside consultants?
The federal agencies that sponsored this study through the FFC are the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Food and Drug Administration, General Services Administration, Indian Health Service, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Postal Service.