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1 INTRODUCTION Although federal agencies have always been concerned about the quality of their construction projects, for the last 20 years there has been growing awareness of the need for well planned quality control programs. In the mid 1960s, for example, the Federal Construction Council (FCC), at the request of the sponsoring agencies, con- ducted a thorough review of the policies of federal agencies regarding supervision and inspection of federal construction projects (Federal Construction Council Task Group T-50, 1968). During the same period, the military agencies, in an effort to help improve construction quality began requiring construction contractors on their projects to accept direct responsibility for controlling the quality of their own work under a concept known as contractor quality control (CQC). Since that time, almost every federal agency has conducted at least one in-house study of construction quality control procedures. This concern about construction quality control has been stimulated by recognition that the likelihood of problems occurring on federal construction projects has increased in recent years because: 1. Building systems (particularly mechanical and electrical systems) have become increasingly complex. 2. Margins for error and safety factors in con- struction have been reduced as designs have been refined to save materials and money. 3. As a result of competitive pressures, both con- tractors and design firms have reduced the amount of time they devote to coordination, supervision, and checking of their workers.
4. Due to budget cuts, agencies have had to reduce the number of project managers, design reviewers, inspectors, and field supervisors they employ. Many of these same factors also apply to private construction work, and some private owners and developers of buildings and similar facilities have the same con- cerns as federal agencies about construction quality control. This was revealed by a survey conducted by the Business Roundtable* as part of its comprehensive Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness project (Business Roundtable, 1982 and 1983). A survey by the Opinion Research Division of Fleishman-Hillard, Inc. (1984) also showed that poor quality is considered a major problem by building owners. Specifically, 59 percent of the respondents listed quality of workmanship as either the first or second most serious problem facing the construction industry today. Professional engineers also have indicated concern about construction quality control. The American Society of Civil Engineers, for example, held a three-day work- shop on "Quality in the Construction Project" in November 1984, and as a result has begun work on a "Manual of Professional Practice for Quality in the Construction Project". Finally, there is evidence that the widespread concern about construction quality control is justified. Engi- neering News Record (September 19, 1985), quoting a quality control firm, reported that 15 percent of all field labor goes to correct mistakes made either in design or construction. The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense (1984) also found a sufficiently high rate of deficiencies on military construction projects audited in 1982 and 1983 "to warrant a concerted effort to improve inspections during construction." Because of concern about quality control on federal construction projects, many federal agencies have been exploring new ways (both technical and administrative) of *The Business Roundtable is a New York City based association in which the chief executive officers of some 200 major corporations meet to address a wide variety of public issues. It began in 1969 as The Construction Users Anti-Inflation Roundtable.
ensuring construction quality. However, relatively little information has been exchanged among the agencies on the results of these efforts. The sponsoring agencies of the FCC asked its Consulting Committee on Contract Management to undertake the project reported here to fill this information gap. OBJECTIVE AND PROCEDURES The committee's specific objective was to assemble information on the efforts of federal agencies to improve quality control on federal construction projects and on the results of those efforts. The committee decided that the best way to obtain the desired information would be by means of a question- naire. In its questionnaire, which was sent to the agencies represented on the committee, information was sought on the following matters relating to quality control: Definitions of quality control terms used; general quality control approaches employed; views on trends in construction quality; recent actions taken to improve quality control and the results achieved; and additional actions being considered. Responses to the committee's questionnaire were received from six agencies: The Army Corps of Engineers, The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, The Veterans Administration, The General Services Administration, and The Public Health Service. The responses are presented in the following chapters. At the time the study was being initiated, the Army Corps of Engineers (CoE) offered to provide funding for an in-depth analysis of the views of Air Force (AF) officials on the quality of construction being procured for them by the CoE and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC). The Committee accepted the offer and asked the BRB staff to make the necessary arrangements. Two former USAF Officers, General Bryce Poe and Lieutenant General DeVol Brett, were retained to interview officials at various AF installations. In the course of their investigation, Generals Brett and Poe visited USAF headquarters, four major AF commands, and nine AF bases and interviewed 20 AF officials. They also interviewed several CoE officials. The results of the investigation were summarized in a report to the com- mittee. That report (Brett and Poe, 1985) discusses a
broad range of topics relating to the management of the Air Force construction program, including quality control. Pertinent comments of AF officers regarding quality control from that report are presented in this report.