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(RISK-2891) The Art of Strategic Written Criticism to Effectively Mitigate Risk

Strict enforcement of contractually-required administrative procedures may suggest that the owner is getting a handle on the project. A seasoned, heavy construction contractor might perceive this as an adversarial pre-litigation posture, or, worse yet, that the owner is deliberately acting in bad faith and thwarting fair dealing. As a consequence, owners may be reluctant to be critical of a contractor’s CPM schedule, since they may perceive their rigorous review comments will either assume unwanted liability or be perceived negatively by the contractor. How the owner phrases its oral and written inquiries or review comments will determine which of these perceptions becomes dominant in the contractor’s mind and resulting behavior. Despite the possible negative connotation, owners are well-served to question the adequacy of a contractor’s schedule, write comprehensive minutes, initiate assertive formal written correspondence, record daily progress in field quality assurance reports, and return detailed submittal review comments to affect the contractor’s adherence to the specifications and prompt schedule revisions to more accurately model the contractor’s plan. This paper proposes a style of language that is devoid of criticism, emotion, or contention, and is in keeping with the philosophy of partnering that is so closely revered by executives, especially under alternative project delivery.