Review and Acceptance of Consultant Design and Construction Documents and Cost Estimates

The contractual requirement for the submission of design and construction documents and cost estimates at pre-established completion stages is specified in the Project Brief/Terms of Reference within the generic Request for Proposals (RFP) document utilized in the procurement of architectural and engineering services. These documents also require the consultant to obtain Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) approval before commencement of each of the stages identified in the design and construction document delivery process and to provide PSPC with the opportunity to review the work as it progresses. PSPC also reserves the right to reject undesirable or unsatisfactory work.

Pre-established completion stages for submission of documents vary at the discretion of the project team based on project scope, type, risk, cost or schedule. Review stages may be established and expressed on a percentage completion basis (e.g. construction documentation up to 33%, 66% and 99% is a norm for a major design and construction for buildings) or on a single or multitask basis (e.g. following completion of design development and substantive (class 'B') estimates and completion of construction documentation up to 99% and substantive (class 'A') estimates, or at 50% and 99% completion of construction documents, etc.). The project manager (PM) should seek the advice of their professional or technical discipline resource specialists in the determination of deliverables required at each of these delivery stages. Accurate and precise definitions of deliverables will result in more efficient and effective reviews.

Acceptances of the deliverables by the client/user and other agencies and levels of government must also be obtained to supplement PSPC acceptances, and the consultant must assist the PM in securing all such acceptances and adjust all documentation as required by such authorities when securing acceptance. Changes which occur during the different phases of design must be carefully managed. Two generic forms have been developed to assist in the management of scope change and are explained in the Scope Management component of the Project Plan (see Scope Change Summary - ELF 93 and Scope Change - ELF 94). Additional regionally tailored forms may also prove beneficial (see Sample NCA Program Change Approval Process Form).

Acceptance of the consultant's design and construction documents and cost estimates by PSPC staff and the client/user indicates that, based on a general review of the material for specific issues, the material is considered to comply with governmental and departmental objectives and practices, and that overall project objectives should be satisfied. It should be noted that the review process is dynamic and therefore not all review comments need necessarily be addressed prior to the project moving onto the next phases. This review does not mean that PSPC staff or the client/user approve the detail design inherent in the documents (responsibility for which remains with the consultant), nor does it relieve the consultant of their responsibility for errors or omissions or for meeting all requirements of the construction and contract documents.

Design and construction documents and cost estimates bearing the approval/signoff of the consultant should be submitted directly to the PM who has the responsibility to ensure that the review and acceptance of all design and construction documents and cost estimates takes place. PSPC staff, however, must never provide a statement of 'approval' of the consultant's design and construction documents, as this could constitute an unconditional endorsement of the documents.

A generic review and acceptance framework has been introduced into the national project management system (NPMS) to establish formal PSPC acceptance for consultant design and construction documents and cost estimates for real property contracts.This framework includes:

  • pre-establishment of the review stages for design and construction documents and cost estimates.
  • a design summary review form to be utilized by the project team to ensure that the reviews have taken place prior to authorization being given to the consultant to proceed to the next stage.
  • a sample review and acceptance letter for the formal PSPC acceptance of consultant documents.

The consistent use of this framework by all PM's will help:

  • prevent project work from proceeding without PSPC review and acceptance.
  • establish consultant's required action to conform to requirements.
  • establish a "quality assurance" documentation trail.
  • establish and limit legal liabilities.
  • provide a generic quality assurance framework to meet the requirements of the International. Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001 Standard.
  • promote a consistent interface within PSPC and with private sector firms.

Forms, samples and checklists