Construction Engineering Inspections (CEI) Services Guidebook

CEI FunctionsHow are state transportation agencies managing their CEI consultants?  Due to diminishing resources, many agencies have sought CEI consultants to meet their construction project demands. This study examined various tools and practices that agencies can apply to effectively manage outsourced CEI services.

The following is a brief summary of the research and the CEI Services Guidebook.  <<CLICK HERE>> for a copy of the CEI Services Guidebook.  Please contact Paul Goodrum with the University of Colorado with any questions or comments.

CEI Services Guidebook Summary

Facing increasing workloads, a number of state transportation agencies (STAs) have turned to outsource construction engineering inspection (CEI) to private agencies. The diversity and volume of services that CEI consultants provide along with the nature of the services make their role critical; the inspection aspect of their services can impact the quality and performance of highway assets in the long run while the construction engineering aspect requires proper management of public funds in reviewing and approval of payments.

Although some STAs have developed programs over the past 25 years to benefit from CEI consultant services, others have just recently begun to transfer services to external CEI agencies. This study provides a guideline on tools and practices that STAs can apply to effectively manage their outsourced CEI services. The findings are based on a thorough review of the literature and an electronic survey of 44 STAs.  Using an online survey, the TCM team collected information on topics such as STAs’ CEI program characteristics, tools used for the selection of consultants, contract administration and closeout processes, payment procedures, insurance, routine contact with CEI consultants, and the general impact of CEI consultant services on STAs’ operations.

STAs utilize CEI services in four main functional areas, including construction administration, construction engineering, inspection, and human resources. CEI functions within each category are utilized to varying extents in phases of preconstruction, construction, maintenance, and retirement of infrastructure projects. The results of the survey indicate that most frequently used CEI services are: construction work monitoring, construction project documentation, and construction inspection and testing. On the other hand, personnel management, budget management, and quality management are least frequently used by STAs.

This study also found that the CEI consultant services provide STAs with the improved abilities to handle peak workloads, the flexibility in adjusting the staff quickly, and access to special expertise that is not available in-house. However, some of the reported challenges of working with CEI consultants include the relatively high cost of CEI consultants compared to in-house staff, lack of CEI consultants’ familiarity with in-house procedures, and CEI qualifications assessment. 

To successfully manage and benefit from CEI consultant services, this guideline suggests agencies to focus more on CEI scopes of work definition, contracts administration, cost optimization, and CEI training.

Finally, specific examples of CEI practices from various STAs are provided in the appendix to the Guidebook.