News from South Australia

John Held , 5 November 2014

ACA – SA President, John Held, with an update on recent discussions around procurement, limits of liability and other issues. 

Subconsultants agreements

The final drafts have been received and circulated to insurers, Consult Australia and DPTI for comment. They should be available shortly.

ACA employment agreements

These are being updated – the SA specific agreements will be available to download shortly. 

Construction Professionals Forum

ACA – SA met last week with Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) Project Services. John Domino explained some of the reorganisation of the department and we discussed a number of issues. Project Services have made a commitment to trial the use of cascading appointment of consultants, with the lead Professional Services Consultant being appointed first and then assisting with the procurement of secondary consultants.

We also discussed various issues relating to the Category 3M prequalification and how long it is taking to become prequalified. It is a difficult issue of balancing risk with encouragement for new practices – further discussion is required.

As well as the issue of limited liability discussed above, there are new tests for local content for contract values between $22,000 and $4M. This will see a weighting on the assessment process for local (South Australian) content. This will require you to be able to quantify the percentage of local hours for both you and your subconsultants. Members should see this in tenders in the near future.

There is some progress on the adoption of the 2010 AS4122 and it has been promised within the next few months.

John Domino also updated the group on the DPTI BIM strategic task force. This has gathered speed and gained some traction within government departments, and hopefully more structured guidelines will be issued in the near future. John Held represents ACA SA on this group. 

DPTI procurement

With changes in DPTI, Judith Carr has been given an overall role looking at procurement. We have had some discussions with her already regarding issues such as 3M prequalification and direct payment of subconsultants and have invited her to an ACA committee meeting in November to discuss further.

Meeting with local government

The ACA met with Rob Ackland, of LGA Procurement, on 22 October to discuss ways of achieving a more coordinated approach to local government engagement of architectural consultants. The main issues discussed included a consistency of approach and the use of standard contracts. Rob noted that local councils do not have to use centralised or consistent procurement processes, and that part of his role is to educate councils on the advantages of such approaches. We have agreed to supply him with information which may be of benefit to councils considering architectural services and will be able to comment on the proforma contracts they issue for a range of services.

Adelaide University procurement

We met with the university in early November to discuss procurement issues including greater participation of SA-based architects in their major project selection. 

Limitation of liability for DPTI low risk projects

Part of the remit of Ian Nightingale, of the Office of the Industry Advocate, is to reduce the limits of liability for low-risk government projects. In relation to this, DPTI Project Services has advised that for low-risk projects the cap on liability, except for the seven Heads of Liability, can be as low as five times the contract amount (being the total fee). 

The ACA welcomes this. However, we are concerned that the cap is not being made clear in tender documents – in fact tenderers must request a ruling on whether the project was considered “low risk” and, if so, propose a limit of liability.

We believe this could lead to the situation where different tenderers propose different levels of liability – even if it is stated that this should not affect the evaluation process. It could also mean a subconsultant quoting to more than one architect, with each proposing different levels of liability. While the DPTI tender assessment matrix does not include provision for the liability to be considered, this option will mean that submitted tenders can be based on different criteria for the same project. This lack of transparency runs counter to the basis of fair tendering and the Code of Practice.

We will take this further, and also continue to push for limitation of liability on all government projects.

In the interim, the ACA recommends that members ensure that they are aware of this issue and seek clarification as to the status of any project as "low risk" or otherwise.

John Held is ACA – SA President.

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