Specification of standards in calls and contracts

Specify a detailed, written account of technical requirements, timelines and procedures for your project’s implementation in calls and contracts

The specification of standards requires that contractor’s/consultant’s deliverables are clearly stated and specified in the project’s call for proposals and subsequently in the resulting agreements with contractors. Specifications are to be written in a way that allows both parties to measure the degree of conformance (BUSINESS DICTIONARY. n.y.).

Purpose and link to IQC

Contracts should be awarded to contractors/consultants that are best suited to deliver the project’s requirements. Specifications of standards and quality requirements in calls provide a transparent reference for the evaluation of bids. This also leads to more realistic proposals / bids by competitors, because they are aware which requirements need to be met during the project implementation.

The specifications in the call should largely be the same as in the ones that end up in the final contract, defining requirements and deliverables. When an implementing organization subcontracts to a third party, it can monitor the contractor’s/consultant’s work based on the specified standards and requirements. If deliverables do not conform with the contractual obligations, the contract provides a legal basis to confront the contractor/consultant. In case of underperformance the contract can be terminated by default.

Suggested To Dos

1.   Specify the standards and requirements the work you seek to outsource

Define what is expected from a contractor/consultant: the outputs (for services) or the functional and performance requirements (for goods). Specifications should not tailor the project to a specific bidder e.g. by naming a specific brand or making the description so specific that only one product or bidder meets it.

When writing specifications it is important to apply each of the following 4 C’s and to use words that are easily understood (MCDOT ENGINEERING DIVISION 2011):

  • Clear: no ambiguity
  • Concise: no redundancy
  • Complete: all required information in the proper format
  • Correct: technically accurate and applies to this project

Include the following information:

  • General clauses: the scope of the project, the obligations of the contractor/consultant, the obligations of the CSO and the payment.
  • Technical specifications: compare the list provided under “Compliance check of contractors/consultants”. List all standards that should be applied for the implementation and specify the related responsibilities of the contractor/consultant.


Basic drilling contract: Clauses and specifications
General clauses ·      Scope of the works: construction of 5 boreholes for potable water supplies in [specify the area where the boreholes should be drilled].

·      Role of the Contractor: carry out the drilling works and provide proper machinery, tools, materials, and labour for due construction of the boreholes, their development and test pumping. The contractor will also provide the casings, screens, and gravel filter pack materials according to the quality specifications given hereunder. The Contractor will be responsible for all damages occurring outside the allocated land caused by his actions. The Contractor will clear all debris of any kind, and leave the land, as far as it is possible, in its original condition once the borehole construction has been completed and tested. If the Contractor is not able to complete the drilling or has to abandon the borehole owing to loss of tools or any other accident or contingency, he should remove the casing or drive pipes already placed in the hole and refill it with clay or concrete, at his own expense.

·      The CSO will: provide all available information about the surface and hydrogeological conditions at each drilling site. This information does not hold the CSO responsible for local variations in conditions at specific drilling sites or for particular problems the Contractor may face while carrying out his work. The CSO will indicate the drilling sites and provide the required permits for access to land where the contract is to be carried out.

·      Payment will be based on actual works done. There will be no payment for “dry” or “lost” boreholes. The CSO in principle does not do advance payment. The first payment of 10% of the contract volume will be made after certified completion of 25% of the works. The second payment of 30% of the contract volume will be made after certified completion of 50% of the works. The third payment of 60% of the contract volume will be made after certified completion of 100% of the works.

Technical Specifications See:

·         Annex 1: “Technical review: borehole drilling and rehabilitation under field conditions” (p. 114-118).

·         Annex 2: “Procurement and Contract Management of Drilled Well Construction” (p. 22-27)

2.   Optional: Get external feedback to ensure clarity

Have an expert who is not directly associated with the project read the specifications and describe the work, measurement and payment being proposed. Listen to the comments and make adjustments to ensure that the project design is adequately captured by the specifications.

Feedback Adjustments
The payment specifications are not clearly explaining when will the payments be conveyed. Be more clear about dates of each payment and conditions for it.

3.   Apply specifications for calls and use them as a tool for contract management

Include the project specifications in the call for proposals and use them as criteria to evaluate the bids. Specify the implementation requirements in the resulting agreements with the contractor and monitor compliance throughout the implementation of the contractor’s work.

Keep the document in a safe place and use you for conflict resolution


References & Further Readings

  • 2012. Specific terms and conditions of contract: Drilling of boreholes. Zimbabwe
  • RWSN (Rural Water Supply Network). 2014. Procurement and Contract Management of Drilled Well Construction. Switzerland
  • MCDOT ENGINEERING DIVISON. 2011. A Guide for the Preparation of Contract Specifications.
Last updated 12 April 2018

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