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‘Quality assurance’ - benefits for the consultant? In our column for 18 February, Robert De’Ath raised the question ‘to what extent the formal pursuit of “QA ” is capable of bringing tangible advantages to consulting civil and structural engineers. We have received several letters on the subject. Stephen Doubt, of Chester, reveals himself as being very much a sceptic on advantages arising from formal registration: My practice has examined the procedure for becoming registered, and has found that it could cost about £8000 in the first year (although some grant aid may be available) and about £1500 in ensuing years. The apparent procedure would be for one of the accreditation companies to come into the office probably for the best part of a week, talk to my staff, document the procedures that we carry out (which to some extent we have documented), and ensure that we follow their documentation. It may be that the time wasted by my staff could come to another £2000. For this we get nothing to assist in our engineering skills, expertise or judgment. Our clients gain nothing from our being accredited, apart from the fact that we may take longer to carry out our procedures if we document all that we have to do. Verulam