Last edited 21 Mar 2016

Accepted programme

The New Engineering Contract (NEC) is a suite of construction contracts intended to promote partnering and collaboration between the contractor and client. It was developed as a reaction to other more traditional forms of construction contract which have been portrayed by some as adversarial. The third edition, NEC3 was published in 2005.

The suite of NEC documents includes the Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC), the most frequently used NEC3 contract, suitable for the appointment of a contractor for engineering and construction work, such as infrastructure, buildings, highways and process plants, including any level of design responsibility.

Within the ECC, the ‘accepted programme’, is ‘…identified within the Contract Data or during the project it will be superseded by a later programme – there is a process for submission and this must be accepted by the project manager. The programme is to be practicable and realistic, showing when the contractor intends to carry out each part of the works identifying the resource he intends to use – this tool is invaluable in successfully managing a contract.’ Ref NEC, NEC3 Dictionary.

Within the ECC, the ‘activity schedule’ allocates a price to each activity undertaken during the works. This simplifies the administration of the interim payment process. The accepted programme shows how the activities on the activity schedule are programmed.

The accepted programme and the activity schedule need not show exactly the same activities, but there should be correlation between them, and they should be kept up to date. For example, if a compensation event changes the programme for subsequent work, a revised programme should be prepared and submitted by the contractor.

Without an accepted programme the contract cannot be administered properly. Under such circumstances, 25% of payments can be withheld, and it is not possible to assess compensation events.

The contract may require that a revised programme is submitted regularly, setting out the sequence of activities, progress, and the effect of compensation events. Accepting the programme does not discharge the contractor of any responsibility, it simply accepts that the programme is realistic and that it can be used to assess future changes. If the programme is not accepted by the project manager, reasons for not accepting it must be given.

Reasons might include:

  • It is not practical.
  • It does not show required information.
  • It does not properly represent the actual programme for activities.
  • It does not show the full works.

The contractor must then submit a revised programme.

Failure to accept or reject a programme may constitute a compensation event.


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