Canadian Consulting Engineer

Responsible Investments Theme of FIDIC 2003

October 1, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

FIDIC is the International Federation of Consulting Engineers, and the theme of its September 2003 conference in Paris was responsible investments. Among the sub-themes were sustainability, ethical ob...

FIDIC is the International Federation of Consulting Engineers, and the theme of its September 2003 conference in Paris was responsible investments. Among the sub-themes were sustainability, ethical obligations, and the role of engineers in strategic planning and in the selection of investments. Delegates also focused on issues related to the selection of consultants, project delivery methods, and young professionals and the need to keep them interested in entering and staying in the industry.

QBS still a central issue

At the conference, FIDIC released its new Guidelines for the Selection of Consultants. The guidelines specifically state that qualifications-based selection (QBS) is the recommended method. Both ACEC Canada and ACEC US had made strong representations to ensure that QBS was given prominence, especially since a number of international financing institutions (IFIs) are moving to qualifications/cost-based selection (QCBS).

In one of the conference sessions, Mr. Gregs Thomopulos, Chair of the International Committee of ACEC US, made a very strong defence of QBS and eloquently rebutted the arguments for QCBS put forward by representatives of the IFIs. Mr. Thomopulos stressed the benefits of QBS, that is, the long-term savings, the safeguarding of public interest and the possibility of committing a sufficient and experienced skilled staff to achieve a sustainable and environmentally sound project.

In concluding his remarks, Mr. Thomopulos, who was elected to the FIDIC Executive Committee the next day, underlined the following points:

QBS produces quality designs

Quality designs produce quality projects

Quality projects have fewer change orders during construction

Fewer change orders result in lower construction costs

Quality designs and lower construction costs result in lower life-cycle costs.

QBS is in the public interest.

ACEC Canada will be coordinating a national initiative to develop similar guidelines, adapted to the Canadian context, to promote QBS.

Canada asks for guidelines for hiring local representatives

On the recommendation of ACEC Canada, FIDIC will be developing a set of guidelines for the hiring of representatives on international projects. Given that it is considered a normal and desirable practice for consulting engineering firms to use local representatives in international business, FIDIC is well placed to establish recognized standards in this area. FIDIC will be consulting several firms that now have such guidelines. Firms wishing to contribute to this exercise are invited to contact the ACEC President, Mr. Claude Paul Boivin.

FIDIC business plan for 2004

FIDIC has several key objectives for its 2004 business plan. Foremost, FIDIC wants to ensure that it continues to be an effective voice for the industry internationally and wants to develop the necessary business practice tools. These include the Consultant Selection Guidelines, tendering procedures, standard contracts, etc.

The FIDIC focus is also on promoting conformance to a code of ethics. In this respect, FIDIC has taken the lead by developing the Business Integrity Management System (BIMS). Other FIDIC objectives are the promotion of sustainable development and addressing globalization by the development of a training manual on capacity building. FIDIC is also currently undertaking a full review of its 1998 strategic plan. Newly elected Vice President Jorge Diaz Padilla of Mexico leads this exercise.

FIDIC governance

Mr. Richard Kell of Australia was elected as the new FIDIC President for a two-year term. Three new Executive Committee members representing France, Nigeria and the United States were elected to four-year terms. Dr. John Boyd of Canada is currently serving his second year of a four-year term on the Executive Committee.

ACEC President Mr. Claude Paul Boivin was selected as Co-Chair, along with his German counterpart, of the FIDIC Directors and Secretaries Group, which brings together all the CEOs of the national consulting engineering associations that are members of FIDIC. The Co-Chairs are mandated to monitor policy and administrative issues and to organize the meeting of the Directors and Secretaries in Copenhagen next year.

Next meeting in Copenhagen

The next FIDIC annual conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark from September 12-16, 2004. The conference will focus on the transformation of consultancy from being a profession to being a proper business. It will deal with development trends as firms transform from operating mainly on national levels to become global players.

For more information on FIDIC visit


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