In its quest to mitigate the challenges that consulting engineers face, Consulting Engineers South Africa (Cesa) CEO Chris Campbell says Cesa has developed a healthy working relationship with the National Treasury.
Owing to a slowdown in infrastructure projects, Cesa has provided support to the National Treasury in its roll-out of the new standard for infrastructure and procurement delivery management, which started in 2016.
Campbell explains that the Standard for Infrastructure Procurement and Delivery Management is a locally developed standard which details a project lifecycle process that has to be adopted by public sector entities for large projects to mitigate against cost overuns and projects being delivered beyond the planned time.
“This standard will also enable public sector procurement practitioners to differentiate between the process of procuring professional services and general goods as the practice in the past has been to opt for the least cost, and often the service delivery is compromised.”
The monitoring body of the standard will be National Treasury and the objective is to get value-for-money professional services.
“We see this standard as an instrument that will give public-sector client bodies more guidance and ensure that when processes are correctly applied, they derive the best value for money in investments. The standard is also a tool for enforcing accountability,” Campbell says.
He explains that State-owned enterprises, and national and provincial government entitites and departments, which are governed by the Public Finance Management Act, as well as municipal entities, which are governed by the Municipal Finance Management Act, will all have to become compliant with this standard by July 2017.
“The National Treasury will be doing the compliance monitoring.”
Campbell further adds that Cesa is facilitating a countrywide training programme for built environment practitioners and public sector employees on the standard.
“This will include the administration of competency assessments that will follow this training as a show of support for this positive initiative being driven by the National Treasury.”
In addition, he adds that Cesa is embarking on various initiatives that will drive transformation in the industry. These include a progressive partnership platform that will enable member companies to identify suitable partners to meet the requirements of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA), a comprehensive bursary programme for engineering students specifically targeting previously disadvantaged learners, and further development of its in-house Future Leaders Accelerated Development Programme.
The platform will enable large companies to find suitable partners to meet the PPPFA requirements in respect of subcontracting; a consolidated bursary programme for engineering students, specifically targeting previously disadvantaged learners; and further developing Cesa’s in-house Business of Consulting Engineering (BCE) programme.
“The Cesa programme will fast-track the development of future business leaders in the industry into a formally and internationally recognised postgraduate degree programme for consulting engineers,” Campbell notes.
He further adds that the BCE programme has been running for five years and that students apply to Cesa, who then use set criteria to select the candidates ‘most ready’ and suitable for the programme.
“The programme is designed to append an additional body of knowledge to the already existing engineering competencies that candidates possess - such as contract law, finance, communications and human resource management. This is done so that they are better positioned to assume leadership and executive roles in their companies or even consider starting their own companies,” he notes, adding that applications are therefore open to anyone from any discipline of engineering.
Despite the development Cesa is helping to bring to the industry, Campbell mentions that it has found that in some provinces – North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State – public-sector clients are not very supportive of the role that self-regulatory bodies, such as Cesa, play.
Owing to this, he notes that projects are often awarded to companies who are not affiliated with Cesa.
He further notes that often there are instances where the quality of services rendered by these firms does not match the quality which Cesa expects from its member firms.
However, amid these challenges, Cesa has continued to ensure that member firms uphold a high standard of delivery and integrity when providing consulting engineering services to their clients, Campbell states.
Meanwhile, he mentions that Cesa is a member of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers and is hosting the regional Group of African Member Associations Infrastructure Conference, in Cape Town, from May 7 to 10.
“We see this as a great opportunity to create the platform for partnerships in infrastructure development among all roleplayers across the continent, as it will be of interest to all parties involved in infrastructure development. This will incorporate parties, from suppliers of construction products to contractors, architects, quantity surveyors and property developers to funding agencies,” Campbell concludes.