International Federation of Consulting Engineers or Federation Internationale Des Ingenieurs Conseils (FIDIC) according to French is a global professional body of engineers, which started in 1913. Belgium, Switzerland, and France are the three countries that came together and started FIDIC as an independent body of consulting engineers. The FIDIC headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland, at World Trade Center where it coordinates all its global activities. Although it started with three countries with few engineering professionals, FIDIC currently has tremendously grown and expanded to over 84 countries globally with about a million engineering professionals. The consulting body of engineers began after the realization that engineers need to coordinate their activities across the world to promote construction business, professional ethics, technological knowledge, and advocate for their interests. According to Fossil, the objectives of the FIDIC are “to be a recognized global voice for the consulting engineering industry and to promote the business interests of suppliers of technology-based intellectual services for the built and natural environment” (2009, p.2). To meet these objectives, FIDIC is buttressing its networks to gain membership in many countries and attract more engineering professionals. Since FIDIC is an international association of consulting engineers, the research paper examines its background, inception, growth, and its critical role in the consulting engineering industry.
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Following the g industrial revolution that swept across Europe in the 19th century, engineers found that there was a need to form an association of consulting engineers that functions independently from professional bodies that the government regulates. During the early part of the 20th century, there were various associations of engineers in different countries in Europe but they did not have any viable coordination with one another. By 1913, different associations of consulting engineering in Belgium, Switzerland, and France came together and formed FIDIC as an international and independent federation of engineers. According to Boswell, “the objectives of forming the Federation were to promote common professional interests of the Member Association and to disseminate information of interests to members of its component national association” (2007, p. 5). The founding engineers noted that the strength and capacity of engineers lie in the consulting federation that sets professional standards and propagates information that is essential in empowering engineers to embrace technology in view of industrialization.
From 1913 to 1945, FIDIC concentrated on gaining more countries from Europe to become members. By 1945, FIDIC attracted a significant number of associations of consulting engineers in Europe that enabled it to expand into various parts of the world. The objectives of promoting business, enhancing the application of technology, and becoming an international firm of consulting engineers were the propelling forces of FIDIC that made it buttress into various countries and attract many professional engineers and bodies. To gain dominance in the consulting engineering industry during its development, “FIDIC jealously guarded the standard of the service, which its constituent Member Associations offered, and a substantial contributing factor to this has been its insistence on the maintenance of strict independence” (Walter, 2005, p.9). By attracting individual professional engineers and private associations of consulting engineers, FIDIC increased its membership across the world.
Currently, FIDIC has over 84 member countries with about a million professional engineers who subscribe to its vision and mission in the consulting engineering industry. Trends of growth show that FIDIC is gaining international significance and recognition as one of the leading independent consulting federations of engineers across the world, which advocates for individual and corporate interests in a bid to improve the engineering profession and industry (FIDIC, 2011, p.10). In the engineering industry, other engineering bodies and associations highly regard FIDIC as an international consulting federation that sets precedents for the engineering profession. With the spirit of industrialization and revolutionizing the world, “FIDIC is actively working to encourage the development of the profession in countries which are in the process of development and much of the practical help is being provided by member Associations in the industrialized Countries” (Robert, 2008, p.52). Thus, FIDIC is an international association of consulting engineers that has the focus and grand mandate from the engineering industry to carry out its activities in diverse parts of the world with a view of uplifting developing countries to attain the status of developed countries through industrialization. A wide network of FIDIC across the world has significantly boosted its status in the engineering industry as one of the leading consulting firms of engineers.
The vision of FIDIC is to attain international recognition as an association of consulting engineers in the engineering industry. Ivarsson states that the prime vision of FIDIC is “to be a recognized global voice for the consulting engineering industry” (2006, p.3). To achieve its mission, FIDIC is striving to woo engineering professionals and their respective bodies in every country to develop the basis of recognition. Currently, the FIDIC has managed to attract over 84 member countries and about a million professionals and is projecting that by 2015, the membership will double due to technological advancement. Already, FIDIC has gained international significance because various governments are utilizing its services and offering contracts to it in the construction industry. Both the World Bank and the United Nations have recognized the potential of FIDIC in the industrialization of developing countries and have vowed to support it in its mission and vision.
The mission of the FIDIC is to ensure that the engineering profession and professionals apply their knowledge and skills technologically to improve engineering business and spread valuable information. According to FIDIC, the mission of the federation is “to promote the business interests of suppliers of technology-based intellectual services for the built and natural environment” (2011, p. 2). Engineering business is the heart of the engineering profession and the application of technology is very critical for the FIDIC to carry out its consulting activities in various parts of the world and meet diverse demands of engineering services. Given that engineering firms deal with projects that cost millions or billions of dollars, the application of technology in accessing information and consultation services is essential. To achieve its mission, FIDIC is developing an international network of consulting engineers who effectively coordinate in the provision of strategic services and advocate application of technology in all engineering activities FIDIC’s
FIDIC organizational structure consists of president and vice-president who are the executive leaders of the federation and they officially work at the headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Since FIDIC has its members in various parts of the world, it has divided its jurisdictions into regional organizations to enhance coordination and administration of diverse activities. FIDIC established regional organizations such as Group of Africa Member Associations, Asia-Pacific Group, European Federation of Engineering Consultancy Associations, and Pan-American Federation of Consultants. These regional organizations coordinate with the central office of FIDIC in Geneva, Switzerland in the development of consulting federation in engineering industry. “FIDIC management consists of general assembly that requires 2-6 delegates, who come from Members Association, 9 elected executive committee including the president, vice-president and treasurer and 6 members of secretariat who function under managing director” (Fossali, 2009, p.5). The FIDIC executive committee appoints task forces and committees who are responsible for carrying out specific activities of various departments such as business practice, contracts, membership, quality management, capacity building, integrity, sustainable development, and risk and liability management. The general assembly elects the executive committee, the president, the vice-president, and the treasurer. The executive committee then appoints secretariat who are responsible for the management of federation’s work.
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As the federation with varied national associations of consulting engineers, FIDIC is giving every country a single chance for an association. National associations of consulting engineers need to meet certain threshold of demands for them to qualify for the membership of FIDIC. Ivarsson asserts that, “to quality for membership, an association must demonstrate that its statutes, by-laws and regulations ensure that its members comply with the ethics and professional code of practice of the profession in its country” (2006, p.6). Qualification for the membership implies that a consulting association must subscribe to meet higher professional demands and code of ethics that require competence and independence. Since FIDIC objective is to enhance the profession of engineering, competence is a key parameter that determines professional qualification in the field of consulting engineering. Competence enables engineers to apply technology effectively in their assignments with the view of making economic sense in the world of business. Independence is a parameter that shows the ability of a consulting association to carry out its duties according to laws and policies while overcoming undue external pressure.
Code of Conduct
To compete effectively with other consulting associations of engineers, FIDIC is very assertive in ensuring that all its members adhere to professional code of conduct. The professional conduct of engineers in a critical factor that can either boost or degrade the international image of engineers and FIDIC. For this reason, FIDIC is increasing threshold for an association to qualify as a member of FIDIC lest it recruits incompetent and dependent associations that will degrade the image and status of FIDIC. FIDIC demands engineers to act professionally in the course of their profession, and deal with their clients legitimately to avoid unnecessary mistakes that ruin reputation of engineers and their respective associations. Boswell advices engineers that, “they must discharge their duties with complete fidelity and conduct themselves in such a manner as faithfully to serve the best interests of society and to uphold the standing of the reputation of the profession” (2007, p.17). Thus, for FIDIC to achieve its vision of being an internationally recognized consulting federation of engineers, it must ensure that code of ethics becomes central in all its endeavors across the world.
Competence and independence are two major factors that determine professional status of professional engineers or consulting associations. FIDIC seeks to ensure that it recruits competent national associations of consulting engineers to enable it carry out novel functions of engineering and gain an upper hand over other competing federations of engineers. In line with its mission of establishing lucrative engineering business and application of technology in all its services, FIDIC requires competent engineers and consulting associations that are set to provide relevant knowledge and skills. Independence is another professional status that an engineer and a consulting association need to attain to qualify membership of FIDIC. Bernard argues that, “a consulting engineer’s professional advice, judgment or decision must not be influenced in any way by a connection with another person or organization” (2003, p.6). Since FIDIC is an independent federation of engineers, inclusion of dependent association of engineers will degrade its independence and subsequent delivery of quality services to clients. The FIDIC independence enables it to formulate own policies and regulations in line with international standards, and thus sets precedents for other consulting firms.
Conditions of Contract
FIDIC management has formulated novel contract conditions and policies that have set precedents in the field of engineering. Given that international projects require millions or billions of dollars, and take several years for completion, presence of novel contract conditions is very essential in ensuring that the parties concerned stick to their obligation, responsibility, and act within the law. Since its inception in 1913, FIDIC has been endeavoring to compile and formulate new contract conditions based on management conditions of earlier projects. Moreover, the FIDIC bases its compilations from relevant documents such as Institute of Civil Engineers and European International Contractors that eventually becomes basis for FIDIC conditions of contract as stipulated in the ‘Red Book’. According to Skibniewski, FIDIC contract committee did carry out “investigation of the governments, employers, contractors and consulting engineers all over the world about their application of the ‘Red Book’…and organized a group of experts to compile the new Contract Condition models to be applied in the 21stcentury” (2010, p.9). Currently, compiled FIDIC conditions of contract provide standard basis of contract management that international banks like World Bank, African Development Bank and Asian Development Bank employ in their management of grand projects for they give viability assurance of the investments they make in various countries across the world.
Due to complexity of projects, FIDIC noted that comprehensive study of the past management practices and compilation would provide legal grounds for drafting new policies and regulations that would enhance contract management. The FIDIC did consider application of contract conditions on national level and international scale by providing both customary and civil avenues to management of contracts. Due to diversity of projects and contractual conditions, FIDIC has four books, namely ‘New Red Book’, ‘New Yellow Book’, ‘Silver Book’, and ‘Green Book’. The ‘New Red Book’ has contract conditions that are applicable to all engineering projects that involve construction while the ‘New Yellow Book’ has contract conditions that are applicable to big projects where one contractor is responsible for completion of the whole project. According to Jenkinson (2009), “the ‘Silver Book’ applies to the turnkey projects of infrastructures or large-scale factories, where the Contractor takes on more work and risk while the employer’s participation is small, but it is strictly defined upon the investment and construction period” (5). Lastly, the ‘Green Book’ has contract conditions that are applicable to small projects. The four FIDIC books are very critical in contract management of projects since they have increased viability assurance of projects to the investors and contractors who were earlier scared of inefficient contract conditions that would have seen them make great losses.
In 2007, FIDIC launched a ‘Gold Book’ as a new development in contract conditions. The ‘Gold Book’ has contract conditions for long-term contracts and is applicable to Design-Build Operate (DBO) form of contract. The DBO contract involves combination of various aspects of a project such as design, building, and operation of projects to make a single contract. Contractor can then take the whole project as one and complete it as per the stipulated conditions of the DBO contract. DBO contract is very advantageous as compared to divided forms of contract because it saves time since a contractor has freedom to concurrently run designing and construction activities. Another advantage is that the contractor has sole responsibility of controlling flow of finance hence reducing unnecessary losses. Moreover, since DBO contracts deal with long-term projects and the contractors bear in mind that they will be responsible for future operations of maintenance, they ensure that they deliver quality projects that will stand the test of time. “From the experience of the DBO members it was decided that the most useful period to consider was 20 years operation” (Clark, 2009, p.16). Hence, 20 years of operation compels contractors to build quality projects that do not only last but also fit their functions.
FIDIC is an international association of consulting engineers who came together with the objective of revolutionizing engineering profession and creation of better professional standards of services and contract conditions. It started in 1913 with only three member countries viz. Belgium, Switzerland, and France, but it has now grown quite tremendously having over 84 countries as members with about a million of professional engineers across the world. Exponential growth of FIDIC is due to dedicated leadership that is competent in carrying out its professional duties and is independent in formulation and implementation of policies. FIDIC attaches more importance to ethical values of engineering profession and therefore, compels its professional members and associations to comply. It gives every country a single chance of an association of engineers to become a member, thus ensuring that it has competent members. In its organizational structure, FIDIC is well coordinated across the world and this has propelled it to network in most countries, which share a common dream of industrialization. Regarding contract management, FIDIC has set grand precedents by establishing novel contract conditions that suit different types of projects. Novel contract conditions have encouraged contractors and investors to venture into great projects that have increased risks since they now have viable contract assurance based on new FIDIC contract conditions.
Bernard, K. (2003). FIDIC Professionalism in Engineering. Engineering Code of Ethics, 1-7.
Boswell, P. (2007). General Information on FIDIC. Society of Consulting Architectural And Engineering Firms, 1-44.
Clark, A. (2009). Conditions of Contract. FIDIC Review, 3 (1), 1-45.
FIDIC. (2011). The Federation. FIDIC, 1-11.
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Robert, N. (2008). International Federation of Consulting Engineers. The Journal of Engineering, 4(1), 45-89.
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Skibniewski, M. (2010). Introduction to FIDIC Conditions of Contract. E-Construction And Project Management, 1-34.
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