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Module 6

Contract Administration

Table of Contents

Introduction................................................................................................................ 2

Learning Outcomes ....................................................................................................... 2

Module Topics ............................................................................................................. 2

Contract Administration ........................................................................................... 2

Project Management Processes .................................................................................. 3

Inputs & Outputs .................................................................................................... 3

Expediting, Meetings, Relationships ............................................................................. 5

Contractual terms & Conditions.................................................................................. 6

Risk Allocation via Contract Documents ....................................................................... 10

Required Reading ........................................................................................................ 16

Summary .................................................................................................................. 16

References ................................................................................................................ 16

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Hello and welcome to Module 6 of Project Procurement Management.

In this module you will look at Contract Administration. The contract administration phase of a project
begins once the contract has been signed by the buyer and seller (Cavendish and Martin 1982). The
legal framework within which the contract administration process takes place; makes it imperative
that the project team be acutely aware of the legal implications of actions taken when administering
the contract (Project Management Institute 2004). With this in mind the following notes will guide you
through a series of steps that a contract administrator should consider in the management of a project.
There are several activities throughout the notes and you are recommended to undertake these

Learning Outcomes
In this module you will learn how to:

To become familiar with the overall process of contracts administration in the project

Module Topics
This module is broken into the following topics:

Contract Administration
Project Management Processes
Inputs & Outputs
Expediting, Meetings, Relationships
Contractual terms & Conditions
Risk Allocation via Contract Documents

Lets look at each one in more detail.

Contract Administration
Contract administration has been identified as the process to ensure that both a buyer and a seller
meet their contractual requirements (Project Management Institute 2004). Cavendish and Martin (1982)
indicate that all actions involved with the delivery of goods or services, acceptance, payment, and
close-out of the contract are part of the contract administration process, whilst (Das (Department of

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Administrative Services) 1997) suggest that contract administration is monitoring performance and
ensuring that both parties meet the commitments made in the contract.

Huston (1996) outlines three requirements for successful contract management:

A contract document that defines the technical and management requirements for the contract
A contractor qualified to perform the contract requirements
An effective contract management program that successfully implements the contract

Project Management Processes

Contract administration requires the application of project management processes (Huston 1996,
Project Management Institute 1996, Das 1997, State Supply Commission 2005):
Managing the execution of the project plan so that authorisation of the contractors work
occurs at the appropriate time
Producing progress reports regarding the contractors performance, particularly in terms of
time, cost and technical performance
Quality control of the contractors product. e.g., inspection for compliance to specification
Undertaking change control procedures for the inevitable changes that occur to ensure proper
negotiation, evaluation, approval and recording of changes to the contractors work
Financial management of the contract. Contractors invoices are checked and payments
authorised and made for work completed. Payments are usually processed by the accounts
department of the procuring organisation
Managing the contractual risks

Activity 6.1

The contract administration phase of a project begins once the contract

has been signed by the buyer and seller

1. What activities are involved in the contract administration process?

2. What are the outputs of the contract administration process?

Inputs & Outputs

The inputs and outputs of the contract administration process are (Project Management Institute

Contract - The contract is a main document and it sets out the legal relationship between
buyer and contractor

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Contract Management Plan - Information of the contractors work results is collected e.g. work
completed, quality standards met, costs incurred or committed. An example of the content of
a contract management plan is shown in Figure 1 below.
Change Requests - These include modifications to the terms of the contract or the description
of the product or service to be provided (Project Management Institute 1996). Contested
changes are frequently referred to as claims or disputes (Project Management Institute 1996).
Seller Invoices - The contractor submits periodic invoices, in accordance with the contract, for
payment for work performed.

Figure 1: Typical content of Contract Management Plan from

(Source: Department of Treasury and Finance, 2008)

Performance Reports - These are produced periodically to report on how effectively the seller
is achieving the contractual objectives, particularly in terms of scope, cost, time and technical
performance. Therefore regular verifications should be carried out to ensure that the
performance of each subcontractor meets contract requirements. The results of verification
should be fed back to subcontractors and any actions agreed (ISO, 1997).
Contractor Correspondence - The contract usually requires written documentation for certain
events e.g., contract changes, warnings of unsatisfactory performance.

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Contract Changes - Changes are sanctioned and project plans updated. This requires a
contract change control system that lays down the process by which the contract may be
altered. It includes paperwork, tracking systems, dispute resolution procedures, and approval
levels necessary for authorizing changes (Project Management Institute 1996).
Contractor Payments - Payments are made to the contractor for authorised work performed.

Expediting, Meetings, Relationships

Expediting is informing external suppliers of the importance of delivering to an agreed timetable and
it is also known as follow-up, progressing, chasing, hastening, or urging (H.M Treasury, 1993).

Expediting entails following up deliveries that are overdue, checking to ensure that the contractor will
honour the original delivery date or encouraging an earlier delivery than was originally intended (Das
1997). So the project manager may need to expedite or chase contractors in order to ensure that
delivery dates are met and the project is not delayed. The purpose of the expediting process;

Is to discover the true position of the progress on an order, so that management action can be
taken at whatever level is deemed necessary (Lester and Benning 1989)

A vigorous expediting procedure keeps the vendor on his toes and ensures that the relevant
purchase order receives the necessary attention (Lester and Benning 1989).

Expediting involves regularly contacting the contractor before the delivery date to inquire as to the
progress of the procurement item. Expediting can also require visiting the contractors works in order
to verify progress.

Kick-Off Meeting - A well-planned project should ensure that the contractor has a clear
understanding of requirements before the contract starts (SSC, 1997). However, there are inevitably
some points of detail that require clarification. This can be achieved by a meeting between the buyer
and contractor to deal with, inter alia, (SSC, 1997):
revisiting key deliverables, expectations,
clarify and development a mutual understanding of the contractual details
highlight contract obligations of both parties
confirm key staff and communication arrangement
establish the agreed activities and schedule for implementing the contract

Progress Review Meetings - Regular meetings between the contractual parties should be held to
discuss performance trends, impending milestones, scope changes, proposed responses to current or
potential problems, formally providing information

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Managing the Relationships
There needs to be a co-operative and non-adversarial relationship between buyer and contractor using
open communication and joint problem solving approach. In particular, the project manager should
(SSC, 1997):
develop an overall strategy for managing the relationships, defining expectations, specifying
be non-adversarial, balancing flexibility and openness with a businesslike and professional
act ethically and encourage ethical practice by all parties
establish a continuous dialogue between all parties
establish well defined and efficient conflict resolution procedures
keep the contractor up to date with client developments and changes that may impact on the
coach and guide team members to preserve and develop the quality of the relationship

Contractual terms & Conditions

The contract between the buyer and the contractor forms the basis for the contract administration
process. Therefore the buyers contract administrator must know the terms and conditions of the
contract - The legal nature of the contractual relationship makes it imperative that the project team
be acutely aware of the legal implications of actions when administering the contract (Project
Management Institute 1996)

Activity 6.2

List some of the general terms and conditions that you would expect to see
in a standard form of contract from your industry.

The contents of project contracts can be categorised (Cheung 1997):

Performance - These clauses set out the respective obligations of the party. The central
reciprocal obligation is the contractors duty to complete and the clients obligation to pay.
These obligations must be unambiguous to preclude future dispute and to facilitate an orderly
and harmonious atmosphere, minimising surprises and hostility which frequently lead to
litigation (Hartman et al, 1997).
Risk - These clauses allocate risk between the parties to the contract
Recognitory - This deals with the monitoring, condemnation and approval of the contractors
Adaptatory - These clauses enable the sanctioning of changes
Adjudicatory - These clauses allow for the resolving of disagreements. The mechanism should
be speedy and equitable (Hartman et al, 1997).

Their interrelationship may be seen with reference to Figure 2 below.

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A Systems Approach


Performance Risk

Adaptatory Adjudicatory

Figure 2: Interrelationship between contract clauses from

(Source: Cheung, 1997)

The more common commercial contractual terms that have an important impact on the administration
process are set out below.

Main Commercial Terms

Scope and Terms of Agreement - This sets out the details of the goods and services to be provided by
the contractor, and the obligations of both parties.

Prices - The prices, schedule of rates, fees must be set out. These set the basis for evaluation of
payment for the goods and services provided by the contractor.

Payments - The procedure and timing for payments are set out. Examples of common timing
arrangements are:
Payment on completion - For procurement items of small value, the basis of payment is
typically after the contract has been completed e.g. within 30 days after completion. However
many projects are of relatively long duration so that interim payments are allowed.
Stage payments - Stage payment for goods or services means payments are due at pre-
determined stages of the contract. It is important that the occurrence of each stage is clearly
defined and measurable. An example of stage payments is (Lester & Benning, 1989):

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o 5% on receipt of acceptable layout drawings
o 10% on receipt of certified drawings
o 10% on receipt by vendor of raw materials and castings
o 20% on inspection of machined components
o 20% on completion of trial assembly
o 35% on delivery to site and receipt of all data books, etc
o 5% on completion of 12 months guarantee period.

Progress payments - Progress payments are typically set at regular intervals, usually monthly, at which
point the amount of work done is agreed by both parties and payment duly made. The purpose is to
recompense the contractor for the work completed to date. The contract should state how the work
will be valued e.g., schedule of rates or reimbursable; will payment be made for materials purchased
by the contractor but not yet incorporated into the project?

It has been observed that other than scope or specification changes, the most common complaint
against clients is the matter of late payment (Tobin, 1991). The contractor can minimise any delayed
payments by attending to the following (James, 1995):
Use standard payment claims forms. The layout should be clear and logical.
The contract should be consulted to ensure that any specified requirements are followed.
Progress payments claims should include all necessary details to enable the buyer to
understand and quickly process them. e.g., contract section, proportion completed.
Claims for variations and extras should be fully detailed and kept separate from progress

Escalation - Escalation is the effect of inflation on the price of an article (Lester & Benning, 1989).
The contract prices can be made subject to adjustments often referred to as rise and fall clauses,
due to cost price escalation. The formula of calculation for escalation must be precisely stipulated in
the contract. Typically, different escalation rates are applied to different cost components within the
contract work. e.g., material, labour, equipment. The procedure commonly involves applying
escalation formulae to a progress payment that reflects escalation in costs between the date of the
contract award and the date of payment. Many industries produce indices or formulae for calculating
the amount of escalation.

Retention - Retention is a sum of money deducted from amounts due to the contractor for work
performed. The contract may stipulate a retention percentage on amount payable as a safeguard
against poor contractor performance. Retention monies are usually released on completion of the
contract thereby acting as an incentive for the contractor to complete the work promptly.

Changes - Projects invariable require changes - If quality is meeting the customers requirements
then they must be allowed to change their minds as new information becomes available during the
project (Turner, 1993). The importance and effect of changes cannot be underestimated -
(variations) may be described, not unfairly, as the cancer of contracting. In quantity their
cumulative effect can operate to destroy the best of contracts (Marsh, 1994). Changes may involve
(DAS, 1997):

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increasing, decreasing or omitting any part of the contract work
changing the character or quality of material or work
calculating any allowable price variation
changing the source of subcontract work

A change may be accomplished by mutual agreement of the parties to the contract or by unilateral
action if pursuant to the exercise of options contained in the terms of the original contract (Varrone,
1993). Therefore the project manager must insure that a changes clause is contained in the original
contract giving him the authority to direct change and providing an orderly procedure for determining
added cost/extra work (Varrone, 1993). The change clause should state:
who may initiate a change request,
what changes are allowed (e.g., alter/omit/add the specification/time/price)
how will it be costed
how will it be processed
who has final approval authority

A recommended procedure for dealing with change, except for emergencies, is (Marsh, 1994)
Purchase decides that a variation is desirable
Contractor is instructed to assess the effect of proposed changes in terms of cost, time and
Contractor submits proposals in terms of these three criteria
Purchaser decides whether to proceed with variation
If purchaser proceeds, then negotiation occurs between the purchaser and contractor
Purchaser issues formal change order in writing
Contractor proceeds with work

Warranty - A warranty clause may be required to be provided by the contractor. The warranty means
that the contractor gives an undertaking to accept liability for the consequences for non-performance
of goods or services. The warranty covers for a specified period after provision of a good or service for
correction of defects and other matters.

Insurance - Insurance may be stated to be taken out by one or both parties eg damage to property;
public liability, professional indemnity

Termination - The contract may stipulate the events under which either party may terminate the
contract e.g., bankruptcy.

Liquidated Damages - Baily (1978) states that considerable inconvenience and expense can be caused
to the buyer by failure on the part of the seller to deliver the goods at the agreed time.
Consequently a typical contract condition is for the contractor to pay the buyer liquidated damages in
compensation when goods or services are not delivered by the contract date. In legal terms liquidated
damages are not penalties but fair compensation for losses suffered by the buyer due to late delivery.
The goal of liquidated damages is to provide efficiency in administering potential breaches by setting

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a reasonable, agreed value up front, where determining the actual damages may be difficult in a
dispute situation (SSC, 1997).

The amount of liquidated damages is usually linked to the length of the delay so that the greater the
delay the more liquidated damages payable. One effect of a liquidated damages clause is to encourage
the contractor to meet contract dates. If there is no liquidated damages clause in the contract then
the buyer can claim damages at large, therefore many vendors actually request that a liquidated
damages clause is inserted, so that their liability is limited to the agreed amount (Lester & Benning,
1989). There will be situations when the contractor is delayed by circumstance beyond the reasonable
control of the contractor. e.g. act of purchaser, Act of God. The contract should state those
circumstances and provide for an extension of time beyond the contract completion date so that
liquidated damages are not unfairly applied.

Disputes Procedures - The potential for disputes will always exist in contracts over such matters as
interpretation of the contract, the contractual performance of either party or the effects of
unexpected events. The contract should state the formal procedures of dealing with disputes e.g.
arbitration, mediation, conciliation. The aim should be to ensure co-operation and a mutual desire to
resolve the problem at the lowest practical level (SSC, 1997).

Bonds - The buyer may require that the contractor lodge a bond before the contract is entered into. A
bond is a guarantee given by a third party, such as a bank or an insurance company, that certain
payments will be made by the seller, if he fails to meet specified requirements (Lester & Benning,
1989). A common type of bond is a performance bond and this provides an underwritten guarantee by a
financial institution that the contractor will perform the contract and complete the works as specified.

Incentives - Incentives can be used for enhanced contractor performance. Interestingly a federal
government publication states that incentive contracts are difficult and expensive to administer.
Buyers should only consider them for those procurements where the potential net benefit justifies the
effort involved (DAS, 1997). Types of incentive arrangements include (SSC, 1997):
Shared Benefits- Benefits of improved methods or innovations proposed by the contractor are
Gain/Pain Sharing - productivity improvements or other changes that enhance performance
can be shared according to a predetermined formula e.g. early completion entitles the
contractor to a bonus while late completion entitles the buyer to a price decrease.

Risk Allocation via Contract Documents

A key role of the contract in procurement is to allocate risks between buyer and seller The most
obvious means to allocate risk ... is through specific and express terms of the contract governing the
relationship between the participants (Hartman et al, 1997). In particular the contract should be
clear not only with respect to the contractual duties which the parties are respectively assuming, but
also with respect to those duties which the parties have agreed not to assume (Hartman et al, 1997).

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Whilst contract terms may seem clear, research in the construction industry found that the
interpretation of the contract terms and interpretation of risk allocation between the owner,
engineer, and the contractor can vary considerably (Hartman et al, 1997). In fact the major reason
for disputes in construction projects lies in the failure of the actual wording to describe clearly and
precisely the respective roles, responsibilities and rights of the parties (Hartman et al, 1997).
Therefore, by using clear and unambiguous language to express the intentions of the parties, risk can
be allocated to various participants by properly defining the scope of each parties responsibility
(Hartman et al, 1997).

Research into opinions of contracting parties (owners, contractors and consultants) regarding risk
allocation in a standard contract used in the Canadian construction industry found (Hartman et al,
All contracting parties prefer to shift more risk to the owner. This implies that contracting
parties preferred to share risks equitably rather than allocate specific risks to one or another
Contractors preferred a lower risk than owners and consultants and consequently prefer the
owner to assume more risks.
Contracting parties frequently interpret the same contract clauses differently and so do not
represent meeting of minds. Therefore their meaning should be agreed upon before signing
the contract.
Only one clause in the standard contract met two desirable characteristics consistent
interpretation between contracting parties, and agreement on where risk should be placed.

Activity 6.3

The contract is a key tool for allocating risk between the parties.
What principles/guidelines would help determine to whom risks should be

Principles of Risk Allocation

The basic principles for allocating risks within contracts are:
Control - Risk should be borne by those who can best exercise reasonable control of it, both in
regards of its cause and effect - "there should be no discrepancy between the responsibility of
a party regarding an obligation and/or risk and the party's authority to control or influence that
risk" (NPWC, 1990). In particular, risks from third parties outside the project (e.g. government
agency regulations; trade unions) should be allocated to those best able to deal with the third
Capability - Risk should be allocated to the party most able technically and financially to
undertake it (AACE, 1989; Tuman, 1994).

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Benefit - Risk should be borne by the party having the preponderant economic benefit of
controlling the risk (NPWC, 1990). So that responsibility for a risk provides an opportunity for
reward in dealing properly with the risk.
Good Management - Risk should be placed with the party in the best interests of encouraging
good management e.g., efficiency, incentive and innovation (NPWC, 1990)
Cost Effectiveness The buyer must ensure that the risks transferred to the contractor are of
financial benefit to the buyer because the contractor will usually charge a cost to the buyer in
consideration of the contractual risk.

Activity 6.4

Who bears the greatest risk, buyer or contractor, for each the following
contract types:
Fixed price - The contractor agrees to provide goods and/or
services for a fixed price
Cost Plus - Contractor paid for incurred direct costs + agreed fee
for profit and overheads. Fee variants:
Cost-plus-percentage Contractors fee based on an agreed
percentage of the incurred costs
Cost-plus-fixed fee Contractor receives a fixed fee. Fee does not
change unless the scope of work is changed.
Cost-plus-incentive - Contractor paid predetermined lump sum fee
if projects final costs come within pre-agreed range. Beyond this,
incentive operates to distribute savings (if final cost less than
expected cost) or expenses (if the final cost exceeds expected

Examples of Risk Allocation - Price Basis

When the buyer procures work from a contractor, the contract conditions regarding the basis for
payment affect the allocation of risk (Figure 3). For example: (Turner, 1993):
Fixed price - The contractor undertakes to perform the work for a price that includes for risks.
So the buyers risk is minimised. Whilst the contractor bears the greatest risks, the profit
potential is maximised. The contractor has an incentive to minimise costs by efficient
Cost Reimbursable - The buyer pays for all the contractor's costs, plus a fee for profit and
overheads. This effectively exposes the buyer to considerable risk. The level of risk sharing
between the two parties depends on the type of reimbursable contract:
o Cost-plus-percentage - The risk of cost overruns is firmly with the buyer. The
contractor has no incentive to control costs.

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o Cost-plus-fixed fee - The risk of cost overruns is borne with the buyer. The contractor
has minimal incentive to control costs.
o Cost-plus-incentive - The buyer and contractor share the risks. The contractor can
increase his/her fee if costs are below the predetermined target cost, thereby
providing an incentive to control costs

Figure 3: Contract type versus risk allocation

(Source: Dingle et al, 1995)

Layout and Contents of the Contract

Haines (1991) suggest a basic layout for a contract so that it is presented in a simple logical structure:
Introduction - Title Page; Table of Contents; Preamble; Definitions
Major Commercial Terms - Scope and Terms of Agreement; Price; Escalation; Liquidated
Damages; Terms of Payment
Operational & Performance Provisions - Rates and Mode of Supply; Quality Standards;
Compliance to regulations; Failure to Perform; Secrecy
The Legal Section - Liability/Indemnity; Insurance; Warranty; Force Majeure; Arbitration;
Miscellaneous & Administration - Maintenance of records; permits, Approvals, Licences,
Notices, Signatures

In Figure 4 below three standard forms of construction contract are highlighted together with their

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General General Initiation

Documents The contractors responsibilities Routine Progress

The Site Time Changes

Sub-contractors Testing and Defects Finishing

Administration Payment Claims and Issue Resolution

Execution of the Works Compensation Events Termination

Separate Contracts Title Definitions

Liabilities, Indemnities and
Risks and Insurances
Time Disputes and Termination
Payment and Adjustment of the
Contract Sum
Final Certificate and Final

Dispute Resolution


Special Conditions
Figure 4: Content of 3 construction contract documents
(Source: New South Wales. Dept. of Public Works and Services. 1999., Broome, J. 1999 and RAIA
Practice Division. 1995.)

Contract Close-Out

Activity 6.5

The final process of procurement management is Contract Close-Out.

What might this entail?

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Contract close-out involves completion and settlement of the contract, including resolution of any
open items (PMI, 1996). e.g. claims, application of liquidated damages, release of retention monies,
implementation of warranties. Therefore, prior to contract closure, it should be verified that all
contract conditions and requirements have been met and feedback on subcontractor performance
made to update the register of subcontractors (ISO, 1997).

The contract close-out process requires all contract documentation (e.g., contract, schedules,
approved contract changes, progress reports, and payment records) so that a final project record can
be prepared. The close-out process would also involve an audit of the procurement management
process in order to identify successes and failures for future procurement activities on other projects.
Finally, the buyers organisation should provide formal written notice to the contractor that the
contract has been completed. Contract completion can be regarded as a two stage activity (SSC, 1997):
1st Stage - this occurs at the completion of the work itself; 2nd Stage - this occurs when all warranty
commitments have been finalized.

Required Reading

The level of transaction certainty in an exchange relationship is impacted

upon by two forms of governance; contracts and norms.

Read the paper that the above quotation is captured from; you will find
the paper in E-Reserve

Cannon, J. P. 2000. Contracts, Norms and Plural Form

Governance. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. 28(2):

Activity 6.6

Review in your own time the article noted above. Highlight issues that are
relevant to these course notes. Describe how the content of the article
may impact upon your current contracts administration procedures
(attempt to identify at least three issues from the article and write a few
lines on each).

In the light of your new knowledge list several amendments that will serve
to upgrade current processes in your organisation or work area.

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Required Reading
For this module, you need to read the following articles which are available in E-Reserve:

Cannon, J. P. 2000. Contracts, Norms and Plural Form Governance. Journal of the Academy of
Marketing Science. 28(2): 180-194.

This weeks module focused on a number of key topics in regards to Contracts Management:

Contracts Administration
The Project Management Processes
The importance of expediting, meetings and managing relationships.
Contractual terms and conditions
Risk Allocation via Contract Documents.


AACE 1989;
Broome, J. 1999. The NEC Engineering and Construction Contract: A User's Guide (NEC2 only).
London: Thomas Telford Ltd
Cavendish, P and Martin, M D (1982) Negotiating & Contracting For Project Management. Upper Darby,
Pa: Project Management Institute.
Cheung, S O (1997) Construction Contracts: A Systems View. AIQS Refereed Journal, 1(1).
DAS (Department of Administrative Services) (1997) Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines, Canberra:
AGPS Press.
Department of Treasury and Finance. 2008. Procurement Templates Department of Treasury and
Finance, 2008 [cited 16.04.2008 2008]. Available from
Huston, C L (1996) Management of project procurement. College custom series, New York: McGraw-
ISO (Internal Organisation For Standardization) (1997). ISO 10006: Quality Management Guidelines to
Quality in Project Management. Geneva. ISO
James, J. (1995). Contract management: formation, administration, control. Pymble, N.S.W., Harper
Lester, A and Benning, A (1989) Procurement in the process industry. London: Butterworths.
Marsh, P. 1994. Contract Law. In Gower Handbook of Project Management, ed. D. LockAldershot:
Gower Publishing. UK.

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NPWC/NBCC Joint Working Party. (1990). No dispute: strategies for improvement in the Australian
building and construction industry. Dickson, A.C.T, National Public Works Conference.
New South Wales. Dept. of Public Works and Services. 1999. C21 Construction Contract Conditions.
Sydney: NSW Dept. of Public Works and Services.
Project Management Institute (1996) PMBOK guide. A Guide to the Project Management Body of
Knowledge. Upper Darby, PA 19082: Project Management Institute.
Project Management Institute (2004) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. PMBOK
Guide. Third Edition. Vol. 3, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania USA: Project Management
RAIA Practice Division. 1995. Practice Note PN 120/1: Building Works Contract - JCC-C 1994 With
Quantities. RAIA Practice Services. Australia.
State Supply Commission. 2005. Procurement Policy: Glossary of Terms State Supply Commission, 2005
[cited 19.08.2005 2005]. Available from
Turner, J.R. (1993). The Handbook of Project-based Management - Improving the Processes for
Achieving Strategic Objectives. London. McGraw-Hill

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