Technical Oversight - Government Shipyard Quality Office Responsibilities

M

Mnts2C

#1
Hello all, One of our (Govt Shipyard Quality Office) responsibilities when dealing with a certain type of contractor is to provide oversight. Mostly this has been a rough verification of their QMS and observation of in-process work to applicable requirements. NOTE: Specifically, this is AIT work to the reqts of NAVSEA 9090.310 for those familiar with govt shipyards. Historically, most findings have been administrative or process-based. (e.g., Do they have all sections of their quality plan, are welders qualified, etc.) They tend to have little impact with senior management. What is not occurring is what I want to call 'technical oversight'. (e.g., Is that the correct weld for that joint, piping joints worked without permission, incorrect torque identified, etc.) My oversights have initiated contract reviews due to technical stuff and are starting to get attention. However, the governing corporate requirements for this type of oversight does not get that in-depth or technical. I see an area of improvement for the corporate contractor oversight program and want to introduce 'technical oversight' into it. I believe I need to define what is 'technical oversight', explain the risks when it is not performed, and get it inserted into the parent requirements document. This would help the govt ensure it gets what it pays for and work as it should. Request your input on what would be a usable definition of 'technical oversight'. Thanks in advance. R/ Mike
 
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John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Mike,

The extent of Technical Oversight depends on the provisions in the contract. In representing the Government you may not have the contractual right to insist on change if, for example, the contract is design and build for a lump sum price.

Having specified that the Contractor should work in accordance with their management system that conforms to the National Quality Management System standard (aka ISO 9001), and submit the specified information for review and comment, I would define Technical Oversight as:

"Reviewing submittals and monitoring the Contractor's use and improvement of their management system to assure quality (see definition of QA) and to verify conformity of the design information and its fulfillment in accordance with the contract documents."

Such oversight would also ensure the owner's representative is engaging fully and effectively with the design and with any necessary changes to the design.

Those responsible for a Technical Oversight would have the authority to invoke the Contractor's processes for prevention, correction, preventive action or corrective action where supported by objective evidence. Of course, the contract would also specify what happens if any Party to the contract fails to comply with the contract; such as arbitration.

John
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#3
If you'd like to compare notes, I'd be happy to. I served as a Navy officer of ships' force at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (SSN 605 overhaul) and Charleston (SSBN 624 overhaul). I do currently do a fair amount of contractor assurance work at the US DOE Savannah River Site.
 

dgriffith

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
Seems like there should have been Government Mandatory Inspection Points (GMIPs) for a Gov't inspector to stamp off on before proceeding, maybe?.
 
M

Mnts2C

#7
First off, for the run-on paragraph above and maybe this one, I tried to separate paragraphs and edited them in preview, but to no avail. Tips? After today's efforts some of my conclusions are: - The oversight org has a very small stick to ensure compliance. We can initiate a Corrective Action Request (CAR), but the contractor usually ignores it, finishes their job, and collects their check with no repercussions. Although, when warranted, we, via the shipyard commander, have authority to kick the contractor off-site. (I'm unaware of any instances of that happening.) - For us, the contractor arena is akin to the wild west. Contractors will get away with what they can and oversight is a small percentage (< 8% of all applicable contracts for us.), with 'technical oversight' comprising far less. This could be due to the contract sponsor being required to pay for the oversight. Why pay a sheep dog to guard the eggs when its more profitable to keep collecting the unguarded eggs? - Locally we need to do much better. (Anyone know of contractor oversight processes to benchmark or emulate?) Also need to increase rigor into the oversight process, though that entails changing corporate policy/culture/etc. (And we all know the tail with the $ wags the dog.) Thanks for listening to the vent. Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks for the links Steve and all the replies of others. R/ Mike
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
Mike,

Do all parties share a common purpose?

Have all parties forged one system for achieving this purpose?

Are the people in authority over this system causing quality processes and outcomes?

...or are they leaving this to the oversight team attempting to obtain quality from a dysfunctional system?

Imposing another process on a dysfunctional system (or two or more fighting subsystems) will not help until these leadership issues have been addressed.

John
 
Last edited:

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#9
First off, for the run-on paragraph above and maybe this one, I tried to separate paragraphs and edited them in preview, but to no avail. Tips? After today's efforts some of my conclusions are: - The oversight org has a very small stick to ensure compliance.
Ah, welcome to my world. Can't say there is a silver bullet, but I assume Price Anderson Amendment Act (or some equivalent) is applicable to DOD contracting - especially if you are dealing with nuclear ships.

Compliance by stick doesn't work well in the long run. Have to convince folks "you can pay me now, or you can pay me (much more) later". I saw enough shipyard delays on both boats I was on that an ounce of prevention would have been worth the pound of cure (and delays) we went through. I'd suggest that oversight does need to show that it pays off both in budget and schedule, but yes, in the short run that is a tough path.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#10
Also - for the sake of disclosure - I should state:

I am a government contractor employee (of Fluor) and on the project I am assigned to (Savannah River Nuclear Solutions), we are partnered with Newport News Shipyard. So . . . I hope we aren't talking Newport News here . . . or if we are, better that I don't know it.

My wife worked as a contractor employee when I was at Charleston Naval Shipyard (safe to talk about since it no longer exists). She was a software programmer and her frustration was she'd get specifications from the shipyard as to what the program would do, she (and her group) would dutifully program it to the spec, then demo it to the shipyard reps, and get the response "Well, that really wasn't what we were looking for".
 
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