Which programme should be used as the “baseline”?

Which programme should be used as the “baseline”?

Which programme should be used as the “baseline”?

I regularly get asked this question in training sessions. There are two occasions when it will be necessary to compare a programme against a previous one i.e. a previous baseline. The first is when a revised programme is issued for acceptance i.e. what should the new programme be compared to, and the second is for a compensation event programme showing the effect of how a compensation event has changed how activities were previously planned. 

What is a baseline programme?

Every time a programme is issued for acceptance it needs to show what has changed since the last Accepted Programme. The Accepted Programme is defined in the contract as being the one identified in the Contract Data, or the last accepted by the Project Manager. This verifies that any subsequent programme accepted by the Project Manager becomes the new “Accepted Programme” to be used to assess progress and compensation events against. Some people refer to the original programme as the “clause 31” programme and any revised programmes as “clause 32” programmes, which is not quite technically correct as revised programmes have to comply with both clause 32.1 and 31.1. Once a revised programme is accepted, there is no contractual reason to ever refer back to the original programme again so the original “clause 31” programme that people talk about is very quickly irrelevant.

What baseline to use for a compensation event?

For any compensation event it was always clear in both NEC3 and NEC4 versions of the contract that it should be assessed against the last Accepted Programme. What was less clear until the very latest version of NEC4(2019) is whether if the last accepted Programme was several months old , it should first be brought up to date with any progress and/or any other previous compensation events. The new wording added to clause 63.5 confirms that progress and previous compensation events that occurred prior to any new compensation event should be assessed first, to see where the Contractor was taking that into account, before then assessing the extra over impact of that new compensation event. This in itself will not be easy or straight forward, but a much clearer and fairer rule as to how it should be assessed. We will be looking in detail at the new wording of clause 63.5 in our April NEC4 CECA bulletin (no 16 in our series) so look out for that for a more in depth review of this clause in the “download” section of our website.

This subject and many other (such as who owns which float) are also explored in depth in our NEC4 Programme Workshop which is next running on the 14th March and there are still a few places available which is bookable via our website using the following link: