11/5/2008

Leading Industry Organizations Affirm 'There’s a Better Way To Negotiate Contracts'

 

Washington, D.C. – ConsensusDOCS, a coalition of 22 leading construction industry organizations, today published ConsensusDOCS Procedures, which describe how the coalition organizations collaborate to develop model construction contract documents and forms that advance the project’s best interest.  The Procedures set an example for openness and transparency.  Rather than approach negotiations as a zero-sum gain among competing interests, ConsensusDOCS emphasizes a mutually beneficial approach that leads to better project results.  In order to develop standard contracts that foster better party relations in today’s design and construction industry, ConsensusDOCS has taken a new and better process to collaboratively draft truly consensus contracts.

 

The ConsensusDOCS drafters believe that all stakeholders to a construction project should have an equal seat at the drafting table in creating the contracts that govern their performance.  The Procedures state, “ConsensusDOCS is committed to ensure that it represents diverse interests in the construction industry.”  Thus, any nonprofit association or professional society, company, government agency or individual with a direct and material interest in a Proposed Document has a right to have their views actively considered during the drafting process.  An important principle throughout the Procedures requires that all parties with a stake in the contract have a voice that is heard in contract negotiations.  In addition, the ConsensusDOCS Web site shall publicly post information describing future and ongoing document production efforts, and invite input on such efforts.”

 

“Contracts help define business relationships,” said E. Colette Nelson, executive vice president of the American Subcontractors Association Inc., Alexandria, Va., and chair of the ConsensusDOCS Business and Marketing Advisory Council.  “Early on, ConsensusDOCS made a decision that its process for developing contract language for the industry would be transparent and inclusive.  The ConsensusDOCS Procedures describe how the ConsensusDOCS’ mission of collaborating in the best interest of a project materializes at the operational level.  The Procedures guide the ConsensusDOCS coalition, but their collaborative approach may also inspire others to re-think the old, stereotyped ‘push risk to the weakest party’ approach to negotiating contracts.”

 

The ConsensusDOCS Procedures, available online at ConsensusDOCS.org, are the product of the coalition’s experience in balancing diverse interests.  The 2007 launch of the ConsensusDOCS documents was made possible by the joint work of more than 20 organizations, including Designers, Owners, Contractors, Subcontractors and Sureties (DOCS).  The coalition also released a first-of-its-kind building information modeling addendum (BIM Addendum) on June 30, 2008, and is currently developing other documents.

 

To help the coalition continue its success, the ConsensusDOCS Procedures:

 

  • Affirm a commitment to “a transparent and efficient consensus decision-making process”
  • Invite all potential stakeholders in collaboratively producing standard contracts
  • Establish stakeholders’ right to have a voice in ConsensusDOCS contract deliberations, including assuring that “all voices are heard, the opinions in the minority are respected and actively considered, and that the final product furthers the mission of ConsensusDOCS”
  • Ensure that the ConsensusDOCS timely respond to new case law developments and emerging industry issues
  • Establish a minimum of a five-year drafting cycle, and establish a process for revising documents sooner, if needed
  • Establish structures for ConsensusDOCS document development and marketing, including advisory councils and an executive director.

 

“ConsensusDOCS is about much more than just producing model documents — it’s about changing the way that the construction industry thinks about contracts and contract negotiation,” said Ms. Nelson. “The question is:  Where should negotiations start?  The ConsensusDOCS documents are a good answer for contractors and subcontractors.  The ConsensusDOCS Procedures are a good answer for the ConsensusDOCS coalition partners.”

 

For a complete list of the member organizations participating in ConsensusDOCS, for more information, and to purchase and download ConsensusDOCS visit ConsensusDOCS.org.