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Council representatives meet with interim OFCC administrator, discuss range of issues

Representatives of ACEC Ohio met with the interim leader of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and his top staff Wednesday to discuss issues relating to the agency's management of state building construction projects.

Members of the Council's State Public Works Committee, led by chairman Robert B. Steele (KZF Design Inc.), raised a trio of concerns with OFCC Interim Executive Director David Chovan and other agency administrators during the two-hour meeting, in which representatives of AIA Ohio also participated.

ACEC and AIA asked Chovan and his staff to take steps to alleviate the long delays in issuance of design contracts, stop requiring prime designers to contract for geotechnical and other sub-consultant services that expose the prime to additional liability, and slow down the near-constant updates to A/E contract forms that have been issued by OFCC in recent months.

The protracted time required to finalize contracts has resulted in some A/E firms being required to begin work without a signed agreement, and thus without any assurance of being paid.  Commission representatives conceded this is a problem and they committed to taking steps to reduce the amount of time it takes to execute contracts following A/E selection.

In regard to the flurry of amendments to A/E contract forms that have been posted to the OFCC website in recent months, ACEC proposed that, at a minimum, every amendment to a standard contract document should be accompanied by an explanation, so that users are not required to perform a line-by-line review whenever a contract document is amended.

OFCC administrators said many of the changes reflect the fact that state agencies have been using new project delivery methods, including design/build and construction manager at-risk, for less than two years and the documents are still evolving. Those documents are now substantially completed and the pace of amendments to the various A/E document forms will slow down considerably, they said.

Commission administrators did not commit to changing the practice of requiring prime designers to hold the contracts for geotechnical, surveying and other sub-consultants.  They did acknowledge, however, that the prime designer may mark up sub-consultant contracts to reflect the costs of administering those agreements.

Chovan was named interim executive director at a special meeting of the three-member commission Oct. 31, the day that his predecessor, Richard Hickman, retired after a long career in state and local government.

OFCC Chairman Tim Keen said during that meeting that all four senior staff members, including Chovan, Jeff Westhoven, Bill Ramsey and Craig Weise, were qualified for consideration as Hickman's successor, and he encouraged them to apply for the permanent position.  Chovan, however, said he will not seek a permanent appointment to the job.

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