Members will be aware of assertions that architects show bias in contract administration, and are not up to the task.  A recent working group has reported to MBIE on the issues.  There has been an argument put forward to create a separate professional service specifically for contract administration. 

The “closed claims” analysis does not support that proposition.  Only 0.5% of the claims relate to contract administration, and the reality of any claim is that the architect may have done nothing wrong, but was caught in a dispute of others’ making.  The experience of the Claims Committee emphatically indicates that architects perform the role well. 

Overwhelmingly, the perceived contract administration failures are the result of the contractor not providing the necessary information, of the client misunderstanding the role as one of contract management, or they arise out of the observation role.  It is natural for the contractor to assume that the architect cannot be independent as long as they are paid by the client.  Clients often confuse the role of contract management with contract administration, and therefore the architect should take responsibility for the contractor’s performance. 

In smaller projects, or with clients unfamiliar with the process, members should – in their own best interests – take extra effort at an early stage to educate clients on the independence of the contract administration role, and the distinction between contract administration and contract observation. 

The separation of contract administration from contract observation has led to many disputes. NZACS is firmly of the view that – especially for small to medium-scale projects – architects should retain the contract administration role if they are also engaged for contract observation.