Quality Control for contractors: lessons learned from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers training

Posted in: Construction, Energy, Military, Water


QC-contractors300x200Recently I took the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Naval Facility Command (NAVFAC) Training Course on Construction Quality Management (CQM) for contractors.

The focus of USACE CQM is on proactive prevention versus reactive inspection. This means being proactive, preventing mishaps and deficiencies from happening in the first place, rather than being reactive and relying on inspections and rework to meet quality standards after problems occur. Though neither I nor my team provide daily on-site construction phase services for USACE or NAVFAC, the course provided some very good insights into USACE quality assurance/quality control (QAQC) policies and procedures. These insights will serve me well in my role managing USACE design projects and as the Mead & Hunt Corporate Quality Facilitator.

Proactive prevention requires both the Government and contractor

CQM exists to provide construction services safely, according to plans and specifications, on time, and within budget. It begins with carefully developed requirements in the design that are incorporated into the plans and specifications. CQM requires the combined effort of both the contractor and the Government. The contractor is primarily responsible for construction quality control (CQC) so that the project meets all quality requirements of the contract. The Government performs quality assurance (QA) using reviews, inspections, and tests to check that the CQC is working.

Good quality management is the successful execution of the Contractor’s CQC and the Government’s QA. Both CQC and QA personnel must work together to execute complimentary quality plans, and adjust that plan as needed. Through this combined effort, the team can proactively deliver projects that are built safely, according to plans and specifications, on time, and within budget.

What this means for our us

Quality doesn’t just happen. It must be carefully planned into every project, from inception through design and construction. That planning must be detailed and account for the differing roles and responsibilities of QAQC personnel. Successful quality management involves the contractor (or consultant) executing a realistic plan to meet all required standards, and then working closely with the Government to adjust that plan as needed.

This was useful training to me—even though I do not have direct construction quality management responsibilities, it is important to understand the entirety of the process. This way, all those involved in a project can successfully work toward the same goal, resulting in quality outcomes for USACE clients.


Miro Kurka, PE, PMP

About the Author

Miro Kurka, P.E., PMP, knows water is an incredible resource. “I like leading teams and managing water infrastructure projects that make our citizens safer, wealthier and happier.” A retired U.S. Army officer, he managed the Corps of Engineers’ program in Tulsa, Portland and Afghanistan for 30 years. He enjoys traveling and meeting people.

Read more posts by Miro Kurka, PE, PMP

One response on “Quality Control for contractors: lessons learned from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers training

  1. This sounds like an invaluable asset for any contractor or construction manager.
    I will be watching for the opportunity to take part as a Construction Observer/Administrator

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