AUS-SPEC the new standard specification


All Councils must ensure that assets under their control are built to an appropriate and high standard to achieve their full design life. Assets must also be built and maintained to minimise the risk of alternative contract interpretations and poor performance in service which may lead to costly litigation or insurance claims.

The 'technical requirements' currently specified by Councils can vary in quality. Councils acquire the responsibility for the maintenance of all assets built and there is significant and unnecessary risk in using poor quality specifications.

Two years ago, six Councils commissioned Statewide Roads (SWR), the builders of the award winning M4 Motorway, to assist them in authoring a new technical specification for development/subdivisions suitable for Local Government conditions called 'DEVSPEC'. As a result of the success of this project, SWR joined with the Institute of Municipal Engineering Australia NSW Branch to develop a generic specification.

AUS-SPEC #1 was launched in March 1997 at the IMEA NSW Conference. This specification has now been committed to by many NSW Councils. Others have committed to AUS-SPEC #2 for Capital Roadworks and Schedule of Rates contracts.

Economies of scale naturally result from this standardisation of process. Contractors enjoy savings in time and risk control in tendering to uniform specifications. This is passed on progressively in pricing in a competitive market.

The specifications are developed for Councils by Councils and are a real commitment to workplace reform. There are benefits in Councils' staff training and contract surveillance costs.

The AUS-SPEC specifications may be used where Quality Management is a contract requirement or where quality control and monitoring of contractor's testing is utilised, as is currently applied by most Councils.

Councils wishing to monitor their achieved quality and performance, particularly for work carried out by their own day labour or business units will benefit from the uniform AUS-SPEC specification set, when they undertake benchmarking with other comparable Councils. During a relatively short period of time, the joint venture will produce a number of specifications in close partnership with Local Government.

  • AUS-SPEC #2 Asset Owners Roadworks
  • AUS-SPEC #3 Contract Documents
  • AUS-SPEC #4 Road Reserve Maintenance
  • AUS-SPEC #5 Annual Supply of Materials and Services

Further specifications on the drawing board include Building Maintenance, Park Maintenance, Plant Maintenance and Waste Services. All are planned to be available before the end of 1997/98 financial year. AUS-SPEC will also expand services into other areas of Council Operations. It is intended to develop Service Agreements based specifications for most Council business units.

As a natural development of the specification series, it is proposed to develop procedure manuals, handbooks, process checklists, training and benchmark systems to complement and develop the AUS-SPEC documentation package for Councils. The AUS-SPEC series of technical specifications has been a long time coming, however, it has now been well received by the industry.

AUS-SPEC will provide cost savings and risk rationalisation to the industry and an ability to benchmark productivity gains in the future. The end result provides continuous improvement and is completely consistent with the Industry Reform Agenda.

For further information contact Ken Porter or Bill Woodcock on (02) 9414 5133.