Procedures Used for Holding Architects and Engineers Responsible for the Quality of Their Design Work

LCD-76-333: Published: Jul 14, 1977. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1977.

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Government contracts with architects and engineers require the provision of all design and engineering information necessary for preparing plans and specifications. When contract modifications (change orders) are issued because of architect and engineer negligence, the resulting costs are recoverable.

Some Federal agencies are not adequately documenting causes for errors and omissions in plans and specifications prepared by architects and engineers (A/Es) even though required to do so. Consequently, the agencies paid millions of dollars without determining responsibility. This precludes the Government from recovering potential costs from A/Es in instances where the A/E performed negligently. The Government should not pay increased construction costs where the A/E is responsible. Enforcing already existing procedures and other steps could reduce change order costs and help the Government better enforce A/E liability. Added costs of litigation against contractors for negligence will be offset, at least partly, by savings from not paying change order costs. Better evaluations of A/E performance are needed.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The agencies should document design deficiencies, establish responsibility for resultant change orders, recover costs stemming from apparent A/E negligence, objectively evaluate A/E performance, and exchange this information among the agencies. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy should establish an interagency group consisting of General Services Administration, Department of Defense, and other agencies using A/Es to determine the feasibility of developing uniform performance evaluation criteria to be used among agencies, and exchange ideas on other methods, including those used by private industry, to reduce change order costs.

    Agency Affected:


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