Howdy, Partner

by Paul Tarricone, Asst. Ed.; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1992, Vol. 62, Issue 3, Pg. 72-74

Document Type: Feature article


Litigation has long been a nemesis to the construction industry. In recent years, contractors and owners have used innovative alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques, such as arbitration, mediation and dispute review boards to stay out of court. Now, instead of settling for dispute resolution, they're striving for dispute avoidance, by adopting a concept known as partnering. In the public sector, partnering is gaining advocates among FHWA, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and various DOTs. On the contractor/engineering side, groups such as ASCE and the Associated General Contractors have endorsed it. Successful partnering can reduce costs, schedules, paperwork and litigation while improving construction quality. Proponents call it a win-win situation for both sides. At its most formal, partnering includes weekend retreats, workshops and a mission statement of common goals drawn up by representatives from the owner and contractor. Both sides also pledge to escalate any conflict to higher management levels until it's resolved. To date, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Arizona DOT, to name two public agencies, have enjoyed success with partnering. But only time will tell if the vice-grip of litigation in construction can be broken for good.

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