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RECENT ACTIONS TAKEN TO IMPROVE CONSTRUCTION QUALITY CONTROL The committee asked the agencies to describe recent actions they had taken to improve quality control on their projects and to discuss the results achieved. CORPS OF ENGINEERS The Corps of Engineers reported that it had taken three steps to improve the quality of its projects: â¢ Regulation ER 415-1-11, Bidability, Constructa- bility and Operability, was modified to require district commanders to ensure that plans and specifications are thoroughly reviewed and the review comments are fully considered before invitations for bids are issued. â¢ Regulation ER 415-3-11, Post Completion Inspection Feedback, was modified to ensure that completed facil- ities are inspected and the results of the inspection will be passed on to those responsible for agency design criteria. â¢ Regulation ER 415-1-10, Contractor Submittal Procedures, was changed to reduce the number of submittals contractors are required to provide and to ensure that master lists of required submittals are prepared during design and are made part of the contract documents. The CoE reported that it had not yet gotten data on the impact of these actions. 21
NAVAL FACILITIES ENGINEERING COMMAND The Naval Facilities Engineering Command reported that the improvement of construction quality is considered to be very important. Some actions being taken are: 1. Review of Navy guide specifications to put more emphasis on requirements and quality. 2. More careful review of contract plans and speci- fications during design to ensure thorough coordination of all disciplines and to verify site conditions, utility requirements, and special construction requirements. 3. More emphasis on the review of shop drawings to ensure that they include complete information and details. 4. Additional training of government inspectors in quality control, especially with regard to mechanical and electrical installation work. 5. Development of special inspection manuals and training courses for problem areas such as Energy monitoring and control systems and roofing. 6. Upgrading of personnel in the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction (ROICC) offices to ensure that such offices have personnel with the necessary training and experience. NAVFAC reported that these actions have resulted in better construction. The increased emphasis on reviews has helped identify errors before they become problems. Having better trained and more experienced personnel in ROICC offices has improved project coordination and relations with contractors. VETERANS ADMINISTRATION Following are some specific actions taken in recent years to improve quality control, quality assurance, and inspection work on Veterans Administration construction projects. 1. Revision of VA Master Specifications either to set more rigid standards or to clarify the required standards. 22
2. The establishment in 1983 of inspection proce- dures, including the listing of the responsibilities of each VA representative. 3. The use of certified industrial hygiene consultants for asbestos abatement. 4. Institution of the practice of having the designated Senior Resident Engineer (SRE) for a project review the design and site conditions prior to the bidding to identify possible errors or omissions and to ensure the "buildability" of the design. 5. The improvement of communications with facility directors to identify and resolve potential problems early in the design stages. 6. Increased training for resident engineers in mechanical and electrical inspections to broaden and improve the effectiveness of inspections. 7. The establishment of the requirement that the SRE must have all references cited in the specifications on hand at the site. 8. The distribution of the Corps of Engineer's inspection guide books, together with other technical books, to all resident engineers. 9. Holding periodic conferences of all VA resident engineer to identify solutions to common problems and actions that can be taken to improve quality. 10. The conversion of VA specifications to the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) three-part format to help ensure that VA construction requirements are presented in a standard manner that is easily understood by the construction industry. 11. The use of feedback from completed projects and information on new developments in hospital construction technology to upgrade VA construction standards, design criteria and other documents used to establish quality on VA construction projects. 12. The introduction of computers in the design and analysis process. 13. The award of a consulting contract for the review of VA design documents and standards to identify cost-effective changes. VA reported the following results of these actions: 1. Changes to and clarifications of VA master speci- fications have eliminated deficiencies and conflicts 23
noted on previous projects and have helped make VA spec- ifications more easily enforceable. 2. Strengthened inspection procedures help ensure that all work on a facility is completed as specified and all systems are performing properly prior to final inspec- tion. This minimizes the problem of manpower and travel funds being wasted on premature final inspections. 3. The use of certified industrial hygiene consultants has enabled the VA to identify and abate asbestos problems in VA facilities expeditiously and with minimal risk to employees, patients and the public. 4. Having resident engineers review designs prior to bidding has resulted in the identification and elimina- tion of many potential problems, which has reduced the number of change orders and contractor claims during construction. 5. Increased technical training has increased the confidence of resident engineers and their ability to analyze and solve problems in various technical disci- plines. 6. Having ready access to applicable codes and references enables resident engineers to answer questions and resolve problems relating such documents quickly. 7. The use of inspection guides enables less experienced resident engineers to grasp significant inspection factors quickly and perform more effectively. 8. Resident engineer conferences not only help resolve common problems, but also contribute significantly to better morale and team spirit. 9. The adoption of the CSI specification format has made VA specifications more consistent with industry practice. 10. The development of complete and authoritative construction standards, design criteria, and standard specifications has resulted in better VA hospital designs. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION The General Services Administration (GSA) recently issued a new handbook on the design of facilities. However, the methods used to control construction quality remain essentially unchanged. A few years ago GSA issued pocket-sized inspection handbooks that included detailed 24
checklists for nearly every element of construction in all disciplines. A related handbook was issued that included checklists to be used for final inspections and acceptance of work. The most significant change relative to construction quality control is increased emphasis on contracting with private firms for "management and inspection" services. Whereas three to four years ago most inspection work on GSA construction projects was performed by government personnel, now more than half of such work (measured by value of construction put in place) is performed by employees of private firms under contract to GSA. The contracting out of inspection services is an attempt to maintain sufficient inspection frequencies on projects with diminishing in-house personnel resources. GSA does not know if any of its initiatives has had an impact on construction quality, primarily because it is such a difficult matter to assess. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE The Public Health Service (PHS) has used construction managers (with phased construction) on several projects in hopes of improving its construction operations in various ways, including quality control. However, problems associated with the coordination of subcon- tractors were encountered. At present, PHS is reluctant to use the construction manager concept for laboratory and health facilities. Individual PHS programs have taken actions on their own to improve quality on their construction projects; specifically: â¢ The Food and Drug Administration has implemented or is considering the following actions: 1. Offering short technical training courses for design engineers to keep them abreast of changes that are taking place in their respective disciplines. 2. Offering short technical training courses for con- struction inspectors, especially inspectors of complex mechanical and electrical systems used in laboratories and energy management systems. 3. Offering short training courses for other personnel involved in construction in such fields as: 25
a) Technical specification writing b) Contract administration c) Government construction contracting d) Negotiated procurement e) Construction contract modifications f) Government contract claims 4. Requiring thorough reviews of plans and specifications--if necessary by contracting out for the reviews. 5. Making full use of the remedies that are available under government contracts for ensuring that unsatis- factory work is corrected, including withholding of payments. â¢ The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has taken three actions: 1. NIH is involving the sub-professional maintenance staff in the review of plans and specs. This provides a more practical, operations-oriented approach to design. 2. Maintenance personnel at NIH participate with project engineers in the inspection of construction. Having "operational" experience during inspection allows the opportunity to identify problems of accessibility, interference, or potentially hazardous situations not evident in plans and specifications. 3. Employee involvement programs at NIH, specifically quality circles, have offered the opportunity for collective creativity in improving quality and productivity in construction related activities. 26