This past Wednesday Terri Matthews of NYC DDC's Town + Gown program presented the 2012-2013 "Action Research Agenda" to almost 40 universities in New York and elsewhere.
It is a call and a challenge that we pick these items and "do our part"
DDC Commissioner David Burney is an Englishman who understands academic support and a "better" industry.
In Great Britain they "nominate" subs for a project, meaning it's an honor to be "nominated" and recommended as a company, and now with subs and design assist for BIM coming there strongly, the Brits are getting this right.
Here in New York price still rules, but let's see what T + G has to offer with this "Best of" Research Action items for us here on this side of the pond:
The Action Agenda has 94 questions in six categories, in the "management" category (the first one so it must be important), some good questions are:
"What is the Relation of Variance in Public Construction Practices to Cost and Schedule?"
Right there you can stop the presses, this is one of the main hindrances plaguing our industry. Cost and when I say "Cost" I mean "Costs in relation to Adjusted Budgets", are not currently tied to "Adjusted Schedules". It is sometimes required for a sub to give "duration" information for a schedule but since the GC's are not paying the bulk of the labor they can't adjust the schedule correctly with actual cost tracked labor coded items as in i.e., how the crews are working.
This should be a governent requirement for sure. Linking of this data will change how we view the process dramatically
In another question, "Planning Investigations into Obduracy", I learned a new word. What is "obduracy"? It means "the state or condition of being obstinate or hardhearted".
Wow! That is an indictment of our whole industry as "obstinate" and T + G wants an academic program to "investigate" that, so stand up and be counted if you are in this category! Love that one, they will probably need a university's psychology department to pick up that.
Another favorite question is "How can Owners Keep their Standardization Practices Current and Effective"?
In this industry we all work for the Owners last time I checked. It is an AECOO industry. By standardizing data practices using xml, xbrl, ifc's, omniclass you can pretty much capture it all from the "Company Name" field to the "nominating" process to be on the design assist team to the job close out process, which must improve by the way.
With a price only driven process, the design assist role is limited since the sub really wants to be nominated i.e. recommended for the project with price as a weighted factor (an important one but not the only one).
Low ball is not our game although on the street the gripe is always, "Hey you took that job cheap!" Yes but it met a target price and what the "proper" (emphasize the British accent on "proper") services we are going to provide, including information regarding our data and the installation practices for what we put in place (walls and ceilings primarily) for facilities management purposes, replacement cost, i.e. the doors we hang, and asset management requirements.
Who will want that design assist contract if the job will be still bid at a price to "get it off the street" and DDC has to accept this price within 10% of the Engineer's conceptual estimate by law?
Answer, it doesn't work. We most likely will not win the big prize and best part, the contract to install the work.
Design Assist for subs "as consulting services" for infusing design intent with means and methods will be here soon enough. I like the first and the third question, the other 91 may have other interesed parties.
Visti DDC & Town + Gown on the web to see all the agenda items and their mission to "use research to resolve persistent and perennially unresolved built environment issues".
I like the word "perennially" in there, every Spring the flowers bloom, and every Spring it appears we are still obstinate to change.
The goal for T + G is to do this over time, so as to "provide the necessary evidence-based research to change practices and policy within the system."
Evidence based research is great, but the data in our industry is a mess and in a million siloed places not tagged correctly or at all. Large Owners must drive this train to the station with best practices and yes, some common sense.
I agree with T + G's mission since the system will not reform itself magically, but bills are perlocating in Albany and Washington which when updated and fine tuned, our world will be different as Governors and Presidents sign these bills into law.
The public cannot wait on our apparent obduracy, so I just answered question # 2!
Ohio is the # 1 state for procurement laws and BIM training for subs it appears right now, see their site
Model BIM codes, model procurement codes, model building codes will all merge finally, with xml and other data tagging capabilities here, we are on the cusp of a new built environment realtiy (or virtual reality if you want to call it that) for all of us to see.
Do you know very few politicians in Washington have even heard of BIM? That won't be for long.
Hats off to Town & Gown, Terri Matthews, Commissioner Burney and the staff at DDC for investing in our collective futures, time, money and energy and, of course, promoting the proper thought. It will be an interesting year ahead!