QUESTIONING MUNICIPAL SELF-PERFORMANCE
When infrastructure work is publicly tendered, the successful contractor becomes responsible
for delivering the specified quality of work. This responsibility is dictated by the owner’s contract,
which may contain extended warranties. Contractors have developed sophisticated systems and
equipment to ensure quality and bear any costs associated with deficiencies, repairs or even rejected
work. It is not in the best interest of the contractor to deliver anything but the best quality of
work as they will be responsible for the cost of litigation.
Self-performed construction work does not offer the municipality any protection against work
that does not meet quality standards. There are no warranties or contractual obligations to deliver
quality work. If issues with the quality of the work performed do arise, municipalities will incur the
added cost of repair and remediation.
performance of the work?
Does the municipality have
the specialized expertise
necessary to procure
products and services?
Although municipal corporations have general experience and expertise in procurement, typically
this expertise does not extend to procuring construction products, materials and services.
Procurement in construction is a highly specialized function for which contractors have developed
specific expertise to identify the best possible products and materials at the lowest possible
price. This expertise includes close relations with networks of producers and suppliers of everything
from aggregates and equipment to expansion joints for bridges and structural steel components.
The procurement expertise that a contractor brings to a municipal construction project has
significant benefits in terms of controlling project costs, ensuring the best and most appropriate
products and materials are used, and guaranteeing they are available when and where they are
needed. Procurement costs must be considered in the comparative analysis.
Does the municipality have
the construction expertise
required to deliver the
project to the highest
Workers, supervisors and project managers employed by private contractors are professionals
in their fields; experts with considerable experience in delivering construction projects on time
and on budget. Without knowledgeable people planning, executing and overseeing the work, the
chances of a successful construction project are greatly diminished. Municipalities considering
self-performing their infrastructure construction work must examine whether they have in place
the construction expertise and experience necessary to deliver their work successfully and at
If self-performing the work,
are there mechanisms
in place to ensure that
projects are completed on
When work is tendered publicly, the successful contractor is bound by the construction contract
to interim and final completion schedules. This obligation is generally enforced by significant financial
penalties for late completion. There are no such guarantees or incentives to complete the
work on time when a municipality chooses to self-perform their construction work. In fact, there is
ample documentation to show that late completion is a relatively common outcome when work is
self-performed by public agencies in Canada. The direct and indirect costs to the municipality associated
with delays to the work must be considered in the comparative analysis.
thinkbigmagazine.ca | Quarter 3 2019 | Think BIG 9