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Difference Between Consent and Approve

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Is there any contractual significance between consent versus approve? My dictionary seems to treat them interchangeably: Approve - to give one's consent, Consent - to give approval

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In the context of FAR Part 44, I don't think that there's a significant difference. Part 44 uses approval when discussing contractor purchasing systems and consent when discussing subcontracts. The Government Contract Reference Book defines approval as "a contracting officer's written notification to a contractor that the Government agrees with a proposed course of conduct" and subcontract approval as "the contracting officer's written consent for the contractor to enter into a particular subcontract."

Outside of Part 44, I don't know of the words having necessarily distinct contractual significance.

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Absent an official definition, an ordinary dictionary definition should do. "Consent" means to give permission. "Approve" means to agree or accept as satisfactory. Defined in those ways, the two words are not synonymous. Of course, context can affect meaning.

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I think the differences are more than subtle and see why you want to approve a purchasing system (agree that the system meets some standards) and "consent" but not "approve" a subcontract. Think about the potential situation where subcontractor performance is bad and the government "approved" the subcontract.

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I'd like to comment on the use of "approve" vs. "accept" or "concur" as it relates to the traditional design-bid-build process with government furnished design vs. design-build construction with contractor furnished design in my agency.

In the D-B-B world, the government, as the designer of record, has full responsibility for the accuracy, sufficiency of and associated liability for the facility design. The government is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the design intent and the design through construction and acceptance and then beyond. With that responsibility, comes "control" by means of ultimate "approval" of the design as well as for many critical construction submittals ( I'm not going to discuss who is contractually responsible for submittal compliance here). So there is a very entrenched sense of "approval" mentality in our organization, even though most people have no idea why, only that "That's the way we've always done it".

In the D-B world, we hire a design-builder to employ or hire the "designer of record". Thus the Design-builder assumes the DOR responsibility contractually and, for the most part, liability wise. It is necessary for the government to take a step back from the "approval" mode and control mentality. So, we substitute the terms "accept" and "concur with" when associated with most aspects of the design submissions and construction submissions. The designer of record is responsible for review and approval of construction submittals for conformance with the design and with the contract. We should reserve the use of "approval" for proposed deviations from the contract, which consists of the solicitation requirements and the accepted, conforming design proposal. We might also reserve the right to "approve" a limited number of specific submittals, such as interior design finishes. But the emphasis is on letting the design-builder assume it's DOR responsibilities.

It is meant to be a paradim shift from an "enforcement" mentality to a true "partnering" mentality. Since the approval mentality is so entrenched, it is hard to herd 30,000 employees to understand or to shift that mentality...

So, no - I don't consider "approval" to be synonymous with "acceptance" at least with respect to design-build construction.

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Well, hello Rip Van Winkle!

You must be bored, Joel, to post to a thread that has been dormant for more than eight years.

Vern- Actually, it's only been six years 😜

I noticed yesterday that people are still viewing this thread. I'm trying to pass on some some thoughts to the current and future readers while I still can. I have been one of the USACEs Contract Administration and Design-Build proponents for many years.

Design-Build seems to be such a mystery or an imagined threat to many people because it requires a shift in paradigms, attitudes and requires strong partnering to achieve true success. Those who excel at it are truly out of the box thinkers and doers.

As I get further away from day to day contact with USACE practitioners, I realize that much of the organization is moving full circle, backwards 20 years . Most all of the USACE proponents of "Design-Build Done Right" (TM- Design Build Institute of America) have retired. I was fortunate enough to be able to actively participate in and influence what relatively little D-B policy and guidance that there is for the USACE. It literally took about 18 years for me to get D-B clauses published in our own policy, for example. There aren't any in FAR. the FAR is written for the traditional D-B-B process as well as all of our policies and procedures up until a few years ago. It's very difficult to promulgate true high performance design-build policies when much of the HQ doesn't embrace it or understand it, for the most part. As a result, much of the organization employs slightly warmed over design-bid-build procedures and mentality. Some Districts are reverting to low bid (IFB) fully designed construction or lowest priced technically acceptable, highly prescriptive "draw-build" attempts at design-build.

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You qualify for an engineering degree (I are one).

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