Why did Haiti suffer such abject building failures when earthquakes of similar or greater magnitude are less severe in the United States? The answer is a combination of factors.

By John Palatiello • Jan 20th, 2010 • Category: Regulation 

Baconsrebellion.com: The American people and its Federal, state and local political leaders, indeed elected officials worldwide should have learned an important lesson from the devastating earthquake that ravaged Haiti on January 12.

Why did Haiti suffer such abject building failures when earthquakes of similar or greater magnitude are less severe in the United States?

The answer is a combination of factors.

“It’s really not the earthquake that’s killing the people, it’s the buildings that fall down on people, that cause most of the casualties,” Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center said January 16 on CBS Evening News.

The United States has some of the most comprehensive building codes in the world. Standards for construction of structures are implemented and enforced by both the construction industry and government agencies. Inspections and oversight are important government functions, but compliance and proficiency by the industry is also critical.

But the U.S. is also a leader in another area that has served the Nation well. There is a traditional process which emphasizes the importance of quality over low price in the selection of firms to provide architecture, engineering and related services.

Known as the “Brooks Act”, the Federal law enacted in 1972 codified a process that had traditionally been used by Federal agencies since before the Civil War. It provides for the selection of firms to perform architecture, engineering and related services on the basis of the competence, qualification, background and track record of competing firms, not the lowest bid.  ...

To read the rest of the column, click to baconsrebellion.com/2010/01/20/a-law-that-works/.