Canadian Consulting Engineer

Staying The Course On Engineering Procurement (March 01, 2009)

As the recession tightens its grip on our economy there will be increased competition for consulting engineering assignments in some sectors of our market. History tells us that there will be a tempta...

March 1, 2009   Canadian Consulting Engineer

As the recession tightens its grip on our economy there will be increased competition for consulting engineering assignments in some sectors of our market. History tells us that there will be a temptation on the part of some procurers of professional engineering services, our clients, to seek false economies by selecting consultants on the basis of low fees. Consulting engineering firms and their clients will ultimately both suffer if we fail to build on the progress made in recent years to establish and implement the Best Practice for Selecting a Professional Consultant published by the National Guide to Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure (InfraGuide).

Although the InfraGuide program has concluded, their documents continue to be available from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. ACEC is now in the process of de-veloping a new partnership with the Canadian Standards Association to provide education and training on procurement practices for infrastructure delivery, based on the principles of Qualifications-Based Selection espoused by InfraGuide.

If this initiative succeeds, it will be the culmination of years of dedicated effort by a number of association staff and member firm volunteers, most notably John Gamble of Consulting Engineers of Ontario, and Andrew Steeves of ADI, New Brunswick. However, all of us, consulting engineering firms and clients alike, have an important role to play in ensuring that the economic recession does not result in a recession in the quality of engineering services. Fee-based procurement results in poor quality engineering, construction cost and schedule overruns, and increased litigation. It would be a disservice to our industry and to society for us to allow a return to the short-term thinking of the 1980s.

CHRIS NEWCOMB, P. ENG., Chair, Association of Canadian Engineering Companies (ACEC)


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