The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Galveston District (SWG) held its quarterly Construction Quality Management (CQM) certification course at the Jadwin Building, Oct. 14, 2023.
CQM ensures that construction is performed according to plans and specifications, on time, within a defined budget, and in a safe work environment.
“This training is to make sure that contractors who work for the government – not just the Galveston District – know the standards of construction quality management in the Corps of Engineers,” said Tricia Campbell, SWG’s Construction Management Support section chief. “Part of this training is to make sure that contractors who work for us have skilled people who understand what the quality is and what it needs to be and what we’re looking for.”
Contractors who win federal contracts must have a dedicated quality control manager with a valid CQM certification, Campbell said.
CQM sets the standards for contractors and benefits them in several ways: increased profit and production; better communication and planning; improved organizational skills; and good performance evaluations which can potentially lead to future contracts,” Campbell said.
There are two principal areas of CQM: Contractor Quality Control (CQC) and government Quality Assurance (QA), Campbell said.
“The primary function of CQC is to assure that the completed project meets all quality requirements of the contract,” Campbell said. “In QA, the government reviews, inspects and tests the CQC is working effectively and that the product complies with the quality established by the contract.”
Every contract is different, and in the specifications for contracts, there are certain requirements the contractor must follow, Campbell said.
Campbell went on to describe CQM as a partnership between the government and the contractors.
“We’re all on the same team. We all want to have a successful project,” Campbell said.
Good communication between USACE and contractors is crucial for project success, and early detection of problems can prevent a domino effect of delays, Campbell said.
“In the Corps, we have certain systems that we use for construction management purposes, namely RMS (Resident Management System),” Campbell said.
Contractors and USACE employees use RMS to communicate and transfer contract related documents. The system provides an efficient means to plan, schedule, and control all aspects of construction. The RMS Website is an official website of USACE, https://rms.usace.army.mil/.
“RMS is a tool that the Corps of Engineers uses to manage construction contracts. It’s an interface between the government and the contractor,” Campbell said. "RMS enables the government to exchange information with the contractor and track the contract status, schedule, and costs."
Contractors can also use RMS to submit a Request For Information (RFI) to USACE for clarification of contract requirements, according to Fernando Miranda, of SWG’s Construction Management Support section. Contractor partners communicate with each other throughout the course of a construction project, Campbell said.
“Discrepancies in the contract which prompt an RFI should include a recommended solution from the contractor,” Miranda said, as he taught the second module of instruction to the CQM class. “If an RFI is submitted by a subcontractor or supplier, it’s the responsibility of the prime contractor to review the request. Under no circumstance should the RFI be passed to the government without this coordination being accomplished.”
CQM instruction also included students working as a group to solve various example problems, Campbell said.
“They’ll also learn about different processes that we have that they need to follow: submitting requests for information; doing their daily reports; what needs to be on a daily report;, why is that important to the Corps and to them,” Campbell said.
While the CQM course is required for people who are going to be quality control managers, the course isn’t meant for everyone, Campbell said. "This course is geared towards people whose jobs include performing quality control on federal government contracts."
The course has become a popular one, Campbell said. People from across the country traveled to the Galveston District just to earn this certification and then fly home.
“It’s not just focused on who’s working for Galveston District contractors or who’s local,” Campbell said.
Chloe Heard, a private enterprise quality control manager, traveled from Los Angeles for the class.
“I’m hoping to gain a lot more efficient ways to get the job done, because sometimes you can know something, but you can go relearn it and learn more efficiency and proficiency,” Heard said.
At the end of the day, each class member had to pass a written test with at least 70 percent proficiency to earn their CQM certificate, which is valid for five years.
SWG has scheduled its next CQM course for Feb. 10, 2024. Click here to visit the SWG CQM course page: https://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Business-With-Us/Engineering-Construction-Division/Construction-Quality-Management/.