Section 1-5: Project Design Review
20 Guidance and Information
30 Reporting Requirements (Reserved)
X1-5-A Variance Request Form
The purpose of this section is to provide general guidance to the OPDIVs (NIH) for reviewing projects during the design phase. This policy applies to federally-owned real property assets. See Volume 1 Section 4-3 of the HHS Facilities Program Manual
The NIH has the overall responsibility to provide Government oversight for the design of an NIH facility. The ORF and customer review and comment on the Architect/Engineers (A/E) design submittal is vital to the success of the project.
The A/E is contractually responsible to design the project within the specified scope, budget and schedule. This is not only a Government requirement, but it is a common practice within the industry. The NIH shall ensure that the A/E fulfills their contractual responsibility to deliver a design of the approved HHS facility within Scope, Budget and Schedule.
A. Mandatory Requirements
Sub-Sections X-X-00 “Design Requirements” and X-X-30 Design Document Requirements cited in the NIH Design Requirements Manual are mandatory design or procedure requirements and require formally submitted, reviewed and approved variance for any deviation from the requirements.
B. Guidance and Information
Sub-Sections X-X-10 Design Guidance and X-X-20 Design Information cited in the NIH Design Requirements Manual are based on the collective knowledge gathered over the last 25 years in the design and construction of NIH biomedical research facilities and best practices learned from other institutions. The A/E is strongly encouraged and advised to follow the design guidance and information provided in these sub-sections. The A/E shall show cause in writing for the record as to any deviation from these sub-sections.
The NIH determines the number of design submittals based on size and complexity of the project. The Project Officer (PO) holds and chairs design review meetings with technical and program review staffs at each specified design submittal stage. The A/E and the PO shall certify that the Project is within the Scope, Schedule and Budget per the approved FPPA at each submittal. If a submittal is found to be deficient and does not meet contractual obligations, the Government must reject the submittal. The A/E will revise and resubmit the submittal at no additional cost to the Government, and with no schedule extension in the overall project.
A. Variance Request Procedures
The DRM provides quality standards that are performance oriented to the greatest extent possible to obtain a desired result. Prescriptive limitations, when given, such as exact dimensions or quantities, describe a condition that is commonly recognized as a practical standard or NIH requirement for effective operation. The provisions of this manual are not intended to prohibit the use of alternative systems, methods, or devices that are not specifically outlined in the document, provided that the proposed alternative design is at least equivalent or superior to the requirements in this manual with regard to such items as quality, strength, durability, effectiveness, fire resistance, health and safety, etc., and is approved by DTR.
During the course of programming and design development, it may become necessary for Project Officers and A/E to request variances from the established minimum standards. These variances may be necessary to accommodate existing building constraints or site conditions, required technology, or the Program of Requirements. Variance Request Forms are available in Exhibit X1-5-A “Variance Request Form.” Requests for variances shall be submitted by the A/E through the Project Officer following these specific procedures:
• Variances that are completed and submitted in accordance with the NIH QSM will be reviewed by DTR staff. This ensures that all variations to the DRM can be reviewed at one time to preclude conflicts in guidance.
• Packages requesting variances that meet the prescribed criteria will be considered for review by DTR. If the submittal is incomplete, or requires resubmission, additional time may be required for the review. Submissions based on future variances approvals are at the A/E’s risk. Warning: Variance submission does not guarantee variance acceptance. The Project Officer shall provide the A/E with the requirements necessary for submittal.
• Following submittal of a complete package by the Project Officer to DPPA, the review will take a minimum of 10 working days. Additional time may be necessary depending on the complexity of the request, coordination with other requests, or resubmission due to incomplete documentation. This timeframe shall be considered by the A/E team when developing the overall project development schedule.
• All known variances shall be submitted before the completion of the design development stage (35%) for a project. In some cases, the need for a variance may become apparent as the result of work done after the design development stage. Only in these cases will late variances be considered.
1-5-20 Guidance and Information
A. Roles and Responsibilities
The A/E shall submit completed progress designs in accordance with their contract to the Government for review and comment. The NIH shall require the A/E to provide the following minimum milestone submittals for all projects with a cost of $ 5,000,000 or more:
1. Schematic Design
2. Design Development
3. Construction Documents
The A/E shall not proceed to the next phase of project design until written approval of the current submittal is received from the approval authority.
A.2 Project Officer
The Project Officer (PO) serves as the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR). The PO leads, directs and controls the Government’s activities as they relate to the design review of an HHS facility. The PO is the focal point for the Government and as the COTR, the PO serves as the Government’s authorized representative with respect to communicating and distributing comments to the A/E. The PO holds and chairs design review meetings with OPDIV program and technical staff to evaluate design review comments. The PO determines if the review comments are within the scope of the A/E’s contract. If comments are not within the scope, the PO will reject the comments and does not forward them to the A/E.
A.3 NIH Technical Review Staff
The NIH utilizes select senior design discipline experts who have professional and technical experience in preparing contract documents to assist the PO in reviewing and evaluating the A/E’s work. The technical review staff should be very familiar with the A/E scope and contract, and should be allowed to interact with the A/E when appropriate. Comments may include recommendations and suggestions to ensure the success of the project. Comments that are directives are to be avoided unless items within the design submittal are not in accordance with the scope of contract.
A.4 NIH Program Staff
DIVISION OF TECHNICAL RESOURCES (DTR) NIH GUIDELINES PROJECT SPECIFIC REQUEST FOR VARIANCE FORM
Care and deference must be given to NIH Program Staff as the end-users, customers, and clients. However, they are not the A/E’s customer or client. The A/E’s client is the Contracting Officer or the COTR acting as the CO’s designated representative. NIH program staffs are generally not familiar with the A/E contract and their comments may be programmatic without consideration of A/E - Government contractual obligations. Care must be taken to ensure the NIH Program Staff’s comments are within contract scope. The PO is the communications conduit between the program staff and the A/E.
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