Construction Quality Assurance/Quality Control Blog

Understanding USACE and NAVFAC Definable Features of Work

Posted by Ed Caldeira

USACE Definable Features of WorkFor all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Naval Facilities (NAVFAC) Government projects, you’ll need to provide a list of your Definable Features of Work as part of your USACE Construction Quality Control Plan.

If you’re not already familiar with the term, a Definable Feature of Work (DFOW) is what you might think of as a construction task.

The Corps of Engineers describes a DFOW as a task that is separate and distinct from other tasks and has control requirements and work crews unique to that task. A DFOW is identified by different trades or disciplines and is an item or activity on the construction schedule.1 So, for example, excavation, electrical, concrete, roofing, mechanical, HVAC, etc. are all Definable Features of Work.
When it comes to deciding on your DFOW, you’ll want to define your features narrowly enough to ensure adequate quality controls, yet, not so narrowly that you cause yourself a lot of unnecessary work.

Keep in mind that for each definable feature, you’ll be required to perform the Three Phases of Control, which means you’ll be performing a series of planning, inspection, and record keeping procedures for each.

The following steps will help you find the right balance for your Definable Features of Work. 

Step One

Start by including one DFOW for each specification in the CSI construction specifications section of your contract e.g. 03 30 00 Cast-In-Place Concrete.

For example, each Blue Check Markchecked line item below should be a separate Definable Feature of Work.


Step Two

Next, add to or replace general category tasks with tasks that meet the following criteria:

  • It requires quality controls such as inspections
  • It has trades, work crews, or disciplines unique to that task
  • It is a critical path activity on the schedule
  • It is monitored by a QC Specialist or specialty inspection personnel

For Example, in place of the general category Cast-In-Place Concrete, you would add the following to your DFOW list:

Blue Check MarkConcrete Form Work and Placing Reinforcement

Blue Check MarkPlacing Concrete, Finishing, and Curing

 By following these steps, the process of deciding on your definable features of work will become much more clear-cut and straightforward. As with most things, experience makes the best teacher.


1 USACE-NAVFAC-AFCESA-NASA_Quality_Control_Requirements_UFGS-01_45_02.pdf

Tags: quality plan, quality control, best-practices, usace, navfac, military, corps of engineers, definable features of work